Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Actually Scrapped

Some of you know but not all of you that I used to have a more popular blog when I was a scrapbook designer for my stay-at-home job. Since retiring from designing I took a long hiatus from scrapping. But Garrison's growing up, there's so many things going on around here, that I felt I needed to at least start doing some simple memory layouts here and there. So I did a little layout tonight about Garrison's special words. That child, he talks up a storm. He can say, or at least try to say, almost everything. But there are some words that are just special. Whether it's what they are, what they mean to someone in the family or how he says them. I didn't want to forget. I wish I had kept at least a journal or baby book when the others were little to jot down these little things. I do have my old blog. It has a lot on it but it's not the same. I may start journaling again. I miss it. Okay, off to bed. But here's a little layout eye candy for fun. And maybe it'll serve as a little reminder that it's important to write these little things down so we have them later when they suddenly become more important then you realized in the moment.
Click for larger view. Night.

The Grand Tour

Finally I'll do a little tour of our technically 5 acre but truly 1 acre homestead :) I thought I took more and better pictures but I didn't get everything like I thought. I did do a little sketch of the property. The dotted lines are things we're working on or aren't there yet. So hop on and take the tour of our little piece of property. We've tried and still haven't been able to name our homestead yet. We're still kicking around some ideas. So onto the nameless homestead:

Click to see a nice big version of it. So our driveway comes down and on the left currently there's this:

This is facing it from the house, but you can see the driveway there. You can see on the drawing that there is a side driveway on the other side of the orchard. Okay, one day it will be an orchard. That road goes through our property but is an easement for the nice guy that owns the property behind us. It throws a monkey wrench in some long term plans but we'll work through it. Eventually we'll be fencing off down the hollow for goats and pigs and the fence will go over the road and they will have to move gates to drive down. You can see that there are a few trees that still need to be cut and lots of brush for me to move this week. Or next week probably :) But they're a little close to the electric lines and Clay wants to have the bobcat out and chain the trees before he cuts those just in case. But our orchard area along the driveway will be a two or three rail fence that will have grapes and raspberries. It gets great sun there. In the tip of the triangle by the side road where there is great sun and a big clearing of trees will be the blueberries. The area is bigger than it seems! Then trees spaced throughout the rest of the triangle. Sure it won't be a huge orchard but enough for our family.

Okay as you keep driving down the driveway in front of you will be the house. Now this isn't a fabulous picture as I was being lazy and didn't want to move the cars lol. And with no real functioning garage we had some woodworking equipment on the porch. But most of the equipment is gone now. Woohoo! You can also see a swing. Clay's in the process of putting two swings and a baby swing on the front porch.

With the house in front to the left is currently a chicken tractor. Or whatever tractor. Whenever we need to put a new animals of any kind it goes in there. But hopefully soon it will be a front garden.
To the right of the house is the wood area. That'll be changing some this summer with it moving more over and an addition of a small wood outbuilding of sorts. I've shown the wood area before. But I snapped the unfinished stacking job Frankie was not doing the other day :) It's nice and stacked and twice as much wood now. If this wood stack is on the left, the wood cutting, etc. area is on the right and not pictured.
As you walk past the wood, there's the garden! yay! We're farther along than in this picture. We're excited to be expanding the garden this year. And I have such a great and fabulous husband. I asked him if he thought with all the rocks if I would be able to dig holes for fence posts and he grabbed the digging bar and posthole diggers and said "Okay let's go!" We sunk all the posts that are in this picture that afternoon. Since then the whole back row of poles has been sunk as well. The posts are all the tops of cedar trees we either cleared for the orchard or from the tornado. Clay said we definitely have enough to do the whole garden in those posts. Awesome.
This garden area is 27' x 50'. Considering I'll be giant and pregnant during most of the main season that should be plenty big for this year. Next year it'll be twice as big. Yeah. As you get to that far right post on the back of the garden, straight ahead is an area that is either going to be more garden or the greenhouse and behind that the soon-to-be-finished chicken coop and to the right is an area that is either going to be garden or greenhouse. It's undecided. Here's the right garden area:
And a weird angle of the almost finished chicken coop. Didn't get a great picture of that.
To the left of that is some lawn and currently a trailer that we converted to a chicken coop. It has roosts, nesting boxes, etc. But come this Friday it will house quite a lot of new Spring chicks. I haven't decided how many yet but at least 20. I'm SO done with chicks in a box in the house. Never again :) That area will either be the rabbit colony or goats or both. We haven't 100% decided yet. I'll talk about the difficulties finding where to put the goats either later on this post or later later.

Now if you keep turning left there's a big tree, more lawn, and some space that will either be goats or clotheslines and strawberries. So much to fit, so little space. Sure would be easier if it was one long flat acre.

Now if you look at the drawing of the property, on the other side of the side road is 4 or so acres of somewhat steep wooded hollow. Eventually we'll fence off a couple areas through the hollow for goats and pigs. Man and where will the pigs go? I need to figure out where the big animals are going to go. Soon.

See the problem we're having is this. We don't want to have to drive through our only lawn to get to the back of the house to put hay in the barns. But um... where in the front can we put goats and pigs? Hmm... I'll have to work this out with Clay. Now the side road is probably only about 8 feet or so down a slope on the side of the back. So the area between the big tree and the house on the drawing. It would be an 8 ft slope down or so to deal with hay. Is there some way to deal with that? Digging out the hill and setting the barn farther back? Hmm... I'll have to talk to Clay and see how that goes. If you have a suggestion, I'll take it. Any suggestions. Now we considered doing the goat barn in the front. I could move the front garden out a bit and put the barn behind it. BUT the wind tends to blow towards the house. So we'd be downwind from the barn. I THINK. Again, I'll have to ask Clay. I mean it was blowing towards the house the other day. It seemed like it always blew that way. Maybe it doesn't! Who knows.

Okay that took way too long. It's highly doubtful anyone got to the bottom of this anyways. Except maybe my Gramma. She loves me. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blog Giveaway

It's not mine but I want to win it! Serenity Sheep Farm has a great new idea. Okay so you know CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture)? Where you pay for a share in their farm so-to-speak and get a share of their bounty every month? Fabulous stuff. Anyways over at SSF they're doing a sheep CSA - where you pay your share and get yarn or roving (your choice) instead of produce. Such an incredible idea. So over there is a fabulous giveaway. Check it out here:

Serenity Sheep Farm Blog

And check out the amazing goodies over at the fabulous SSF etsy shop

Their fabulous Etsy shop

Run, don't walk, on over and check out their blog and shop.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Gardening - Feast then Famine?

Everything I've ever read about gardening, every garden I drive by here in TN, operates on a feast or famine philosophy. When things are great and warm, there's loads of fresh food, when things get cold, the garden dies back and then you're scrounging on canned produce or *gasp* going to the grocery store to buy tired produce. The gardening season is the feast and the rest of the year is famine. With one of our goals being this tiny tiny homestead of ours providing us with as much as it can as steadily as it can, I refuse to accept this feast or famine gardening idea this year. But being a somewhat new gardener I had no idea how to really achieve this goal.

BUT I just finished reading a fantastic book. It was given to me for Valentine's Day by my always thoughtful Gramma. Love you Gramma. It's definitely on my top 5 must-read gardening books. Click the picture to go straight to Amazon and buy it!

I got it and read it obsessively in a day. Now, first let me say his ramblings about going all over Paris grew a bit old, BUT this book really changed my outlook on gardening. It's FABULOUS! Greenhouses always seemed so complicated. Winter gardening so complicated. I kept reading about heating the greenhouse, running heated water pipes underneath, and on and on. It sounded SO expensive. Then I read this book.

He and his wife live in Maine and don't heat their greenhouse. Yeah no heat in Maine. He doesn't try and operate outside of nature, heating greenhouses and trying to grow tomatoes when they don't want to grow. He operates in harmony with nature, growing plants that WANT to grow in the Winter. From his point of view, greenhouses, cold frames, row covers are for regulating the wild change in temperature that can happen in the winter and for keeping the temperature just high enough to not kill our winter hardy plants. The phrase that stuck with goes something like this "the goal is not to extend the growing season but the harvest season". You're not trying to grow things that don't want to grow, you extend the harvest on things that can handle it.

And he focuses a lot on what I was talking about before. Feast or famine. This year I'm going to focus more on successive plantings. Why does everything I read say I need to plant zucchinis on x date when I can plant new ones every few weeks for a month so when the first ones start slowing down my next ones are in full force. Then just yank those tired zucs and plant something for the winter there. The goal is to have there always being top quality produce coming out at any moment.

He talks about root cellaring, he has exact plans for green houses and cold frames, it even has a whole section in the back with a lot of information on every plant you could want! And loads of info, even whole chapters on soil and organic gardening.

Wait, you back from buying the book already to read the rest of my post? Man I need one of those Amazon affiliates things over there. I just lost money while you bought this book.

I can't wait for Spring!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A new favorite blog

Lately I've found so many "must-reads". I love reading blogs. Just when you feel like you're reading every good blog there is, you find a new fabulous little treasure. Eclectic Culture is one of those treasures. Why didn't any of you tell me about it sooner?

This blog is a journal of a normal homeschooling Christian family. Normal looking in every way. They wear pants and blow dry their hair, normal. They felt called by God to buy a farm smack dab in the middle of Amish country. They gave away all their electronic goodies, packed up and left the world they knew.

Their story and adventure as they deal with living totally off grid, getting to know their Amish neighbors, doing things like working for days with their neighbors cutting huge chunks of ice to fill ice houses and the women working in the house together to make the meals, just all of it is fascinating in every way. She definitely leaves most of us out here in homestead land quite jealous! Me at least. I admit to being somewhat obsessed with the Amish and the choices they make for their lives. I definitely learned things on this blog already that smashed a lot of my preconceived notions about the Amish.

Here's the link to a welcome post of sorts. It has the link to the beginning of their journey.

Go read. I started from the beginning and read post by post. It was a nice way to spend the evening with everyone asleep except for the sickie lethargic baby doll. Pray these sickies go away soon.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

You know the ickies have hit

When CLAY of all people stays home from work. He never stays home from work. He'll go to work on his deathbed. But he's home. Yep the ickies have hit. First the baby, then me, now Clay. Luckily I haven't been as bad as my oldest and youngest boy. Throwing up, the works.

Lately I think we've fallen into the "read about everything, do nothing" mentality. Or maybe more like a rut. I've been doing lots of reading and little action. Sure it's cold but still. When it's warm I'm not out there busting my rear. And I love love when things are busy around the 'Sted and I have loads to do. I don't know what it is. Maybe I should just try and accept that things slow down in the Winter. But I don't want to. I want there to be 100 things to do. But right now with just chickens and no greenhouse and whatnot there's not a lot to do. Plan I guess. And I have. Lots of planning. We know now where the orchard will be, generally where the meat rabbits will be, where the goat barn will be, the new chicken coop, the expaned garden, the greenhouse, the new herb garden. We know where it all will BE. But next to none of it is there.

This is the hard part. There are so many blogs out there where they just have the money and do it. Want a pig? Bam, fencing, pigs, feed. Garden, loads of dirt come rolling up the driveway. Magic Homesteads. They are everywhere. But it's not us. This year it doesn't look like the fruit trees OR the goats will happen in the Spring because well, it's too expensive. So Frankie and I are thinking we're going to work on the meat rabbits for the Spring. And meat chickens. And new egg chickens. And garden. Those are the things we will make ourselves afford. I'm working hard to afford them right now. How?

Well... there are ladies out there in blogland that blow my mind in their planning. Pantry planning, garden planning, canning planning. They know how much food they use each year and whether to grow more of this or less of that. They know what needs to get used up and nothing goes to waste. And here I am with a house full of food and yet still find myself at the grocery store each week. What's up with that? The trap I guess. I'm just used to going and wanting and needing more. I'm sick of wanting more. I want to be content. I want to use what I have wisely. I want to use Clay's hardearned money wisely. So the goal is to take the money each week from our grocery budget, pull it from the bank, and save it.

In the freezer I've got a huge turkey, two of our home grown chickens, bags of frozen yellow squash and zucchini, frozen fresh corn, bags of frozen kersaw squash, a deer roast, 2 bags of frozen chicken breasts, bulk wheat (a 100 lbs at least), bulk pinto beans, brown rice, lentils, steel cut oats, and a gazillion other things!!!!! Remind my why I'm going to the grocery store again?

So the goal is to put $300 away this month. That should cover my garden fence. Okay maybe not all of it. But woohoo! Maybe. If we can cut enough of our own cedar posts that should cover it.

I wonder if I can do it two months in a row? Loads of compost to amend the soil and some rabbit fencing here we come.

Okay later.