Seeds, Planning and Ice


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Well, I’ve been out of touch for a couple of reasons.  This time of year, I end up in the inevitable funk from the winter, darkness, temperatures and just plain cabin fever.  Outside of having to shovel the snow, raking the roof and walking the dog, I don’t fancy being outside this time of year.  The chickens don’t need much, just refreshing their water a couple of times a day and food, so no need to be out with them.  I have also been busy with making some gifts for my new grandnephew.  His shower is next weekend, and had lots to get done. And, I just haven’t had much interesting going on here.  Winter on the homestead around here tends to be garden planning and crocheting and knitting, cooking and reading.  I could post the recipe I have for some really yummy mushroom soup, the clear broth kind, not the cream type. If anyone is interested, let me know.  We’ve also been dealing with the frozen water pipes off and on as the temperatures ebb and flow.  We are going to have to come up with some more permanent solutions to that problem, and since the electric bill was almost $400 (!!!) last month, the little space heater we are using right now is not it.


This past week I went down like a stone right flat on my back when I slipped on the ice under the new snow fall we had.  Yes, it did hurt, quite a bit actually.  And let’s face it, staring down the barrel of the big 5-0, I don’t bounce like I used to, nor do I spring right back up like I used to.  I lay there with Brady at the other end of the leash looking for all like his face was saying “What the heck, Mama?”  I lay there a minute in the wet snow as the breath was knocked right out of me.  You know, it’s that laying there where you’re asking yourself if you can still wiggle your extremities and if nothing is screaming OUCH! at you.  Brady came over to me, sniffed my face as if to say, “okay, enough drama, get up now”.  Honestly, he kind of looked like he was thinking what a great time to pounce on her, but not at all sure he should.  I am happy to report that he did not.  He is a remarkably sensitive dog and somehow knew the time wasn’t right.  Unwilling to chance another swipe of my feet out from under me, I literally crawled over to where I could grab the garage to pull myself up.  Which I did, covered in wet snow that stuck to me everywhere.  No one in the house saw me go down, nor did they wonder why I came back in full of snow.  If they noticed, they didn’t want to know why.  Boys, not always the most observant of the species.



Today we are trapped in the house in an ice storm, the ground is glare ice out there right now.  I walked the dog a few times, considered going on a couple of errands, but thought better of it because I have about an inch of ice coating the entire of the outside of the car.  We have for years now had a garage at our homes, and never once have we parked in them, which would be great if we could.  Being in New England, where the winters are long, hard and a lot of work, it would be nice to be able to use the garage.  But since we don’t have a basement or attic that are usable for storage, we have no where else to store all the stuff you might normally put in either of those places.  And my husband is a bit of a pack rat and keeps so much stuff that he will likely never use again, but that’s a post for another time…and we are hoping to eventually get offices made over the garage so that we can have more creative (in my case) space and more room to live in the chaos without it affecting the rest of the family (in my husband’s case).  Love him, but it’s like an episode of hoarders sometimes.  I will say, I was very proud of him, when earlier this fall, we rented a dumpster and were able to fill it with stuff that we either couldn’t donate or had no other place for.  But, now the garage is all blocked off with stuff as people tend to walk in the door and dump it inside the doors so you still have to wade through it to do anything.  Someday, we will have a different system, really, we will.


Poison Ivy Vine Covering Tree, in our front yard!



Our property is a work in progress as well.  We have a bunch of smaller trees that need to come down as they are blocking sun that we need and also, just make it so that we don’t have much of a yard or animal space.  So, hopefully my hubby will get to dropping those before the sap starts running hard it them. Certainly easier to dry the wood if it’s already got its sap pulled down into the roots, is it not?  This is also the better time as the poison ivy is leafless and much less likely to cause him rashes this time of year when he can be fully clothed.  Not looking forward to having to deal with that again this summer, we have so much of it on the property and there is just no winning way to get rid of it. Goats, yes, that was our original plan, but I’ve learned from a couple of people that some goats don’t like poison ivy.  So, since we are only getting them for that reason (not necessarily milk or meat), that’s risky since I don’t really need any other mouths to feed around here that aren’t earning their keep.


I have been planning the back of the property and what I’d like to do with it. I think we’ve decided where the garden is going to go, just need to be sure it will get the right sun and that we can combat the rabbit that would be living in the adjoining lot. He’s wild and likes to eat in the place where we want to put the garden, so he may have to be relocated.  I put pencil to paper and made a little plot plan to work from that is coming out pretty well.  I’ll need to get my husband and best bud’s thoughts on it, too.  Always good to have more then one set of eyes on it for sure.  Lots to be done, but I feel like I can manage some of it without my husband’s busy help.  Now that our oldest son is man sized, he’s much more useful around here with his younger brother coming up on his heels.  Pretty soon, I will have two “slave laborers” as they like to call themselves.  Yes, this is met with a very large and exaggerated eye roll from their father and I.  Kids have no idea what hard work consistently is, but this summer, they are gonna get their hands dirty and find out!


Well, not much else to report on. Life is moving along, we’re attending to our sons’ activities schedules with it being basketball season, percussion ensemble practice, competitive shooting and boy scouts…never a quiet moment around here.  Hope you are all enjoying your spring planning, too.  Until next time- be well, be kind to each other and blessings to you all.

Seeds, Ice Dams and Snow


When it looks like this outside, I just want to get planting.  I long for the time when I can work the dirt and get my hands in the soil and plant some seeds.  That longing is very intense when the first big snowstorm hits.  It’s sort of like labor pains, you forget how much they hurt to some extent when you are gifted with another pregnancy.  I tend to romanticize the garden and forget how much back breaking work it really is!  But, that’s okay because I’ve not had a garden in two years now and I’m so ready to get some beds started here at our new house.  We don’t have a very large area in which to plant, and some of the best and flattest space is currently used by our boys for their football field and basketball shooting area.  Yep, it’s gonna be interesting to see just who wins that battle of the real estate. Seeing as how it’s their dad and I that pay the mortgage, if push comes down to shove, I know exactly who will be growing some beautiful cucumbers on the 50 yard line.  They will get over it, I’m sure.


So, since I can’t get my hands dirty right now, I do the next best thing.  I wait until that first real deep freeze of the winter, which we have been experiencing for the last two weeks here in southern NH.  I go into the seeds files and pull out the seed catalogs, or wish books, as I like to think of them.  I never have as much room or time to plant all that I would like to plant, and so some of it is just dreaming.  But that’s okay, I got a wonderful new catalog for Christmas that I have been wanting for the last bunch of years, but didn’t want to pay the money to obtain it.  Most seed catalogs are free, and they do make a scaled down version of this one that is free, but this one is just amazing and so worth the money.  My husband bought it for me for a gift and though I would normally be unamuse over him spending $9.95 on a catalog, this time, I was thrilled.  This little bugger is like seed porn for the heirloom seed gardener.


I “heart” Baker Creek!

Isn’t even the cover beautiful?  The interior photography is equally appealing.  Now, they have every type of heirloom seed that you could ever want to get your hands on and try growing for yourself.  I have my eye on a couple of new varieties of veg that I haven’t grown before.  I have my tried and true seeds, and those I will continue with because you need some amount of “sure thing” food for canning and such, but growing something that I don’t usually put in the garden is a super fun and exciting way to grow our food varieties.  I have three fairly adventurous eaters in the house, and one who thinks anything that isn’t a tan carb is not worth his time, but even he will usually try what I plant in the experimental garden.  Fun!!


So, the last storm brought us about a foot of snow, on top of the 6 frozen inches we received previously.  Our biggest problem right now with the house is that it is encrusted in ice dams.  The majority of the house has either no roof insulation, or inadequate insulation.  So when we had the heat on at 57 degrees in the midst of -10 degrees, it melts the snow that fell, quickly, then refreezes on its way down to the edge of the roof where it froze up solid. Some of the dams are a good 6 inches thick, and we are N-E-R-V-O-U-S about the leaking that will likely occur.  We already have one area leaking through a window in one of the boys bedrooms. On the positive note, our bedroom didn’t make it up out of the low to mid 40s during that cold snap, and that combined with the wonderful job my hubby did on the insulation and channels, kept the snow from even melting over our bedroom. If only we could insulate the rest without having to remove all the ceilings, we would do it.  Now, we need to figure out how to avoid having this happen again with the next storm, that’s provided we can get it melted off safely without too much damage now.  We are thinking that it will be some of the heat tapes that you can apply to the edge of the roof and plug in to keep the heat in them just enough so the edges remain thawed out so they don’t freeze up so badly.  The best thing would be to put a metal roof on it, but since the roof was brand new when we bought the house, that would be a bit of a hard sale for the budget right now.


This cold snap brought the unheated part of the house to it’s knees.  We figured out why, after all these years, no one ever opened up the downstairs to have the “great room” and the kitchen to be one open space.  Because half of it has heat, and the other half does not. The half that does, doesn’t like to share.  We spend most of our time in the great room when we aren’t in the kitchen while we are indoors.  Space heaters don’t keep up with it, the fireplace is great but when it burns down in the middle of the night, what little bit of heat we had was sucked up through that big open hole.  It was brutal, and the bedroom was about 10 degrees colder then that room.  To say that we are really all set and done with this winter is not an understatement.  Poor hubby has been back under the house in the freezing cold to try to get the water lines and drainage pipe for the washer open and usable.  We have a gray water system and its having issues with keeping up with the water we have been putting in it.  I made the mistake of doing 5 loads of laundry in one day once we finally got the washer back, and it started to back up into one of the sinks.  Always an adventure on the homestead!  We know we will need to do something with the septic system, but are hoping to at least get through the winter limping along on the one we have.   Never a dull moment or a moment of easiness here right now.



Well, moments of garden planning give me a break from worrying about all the other issues I worry about.  I make sure, when I have a moment without interruption, to have a hot cup of tea and a nice little candle going while I peruse the catalogs and dream of warmer times.  I highly recommend you try it to, it’s good for the soul.  Next storm, planning will be under way for the types of chickens I will be adding to the homestead.  I think we will be doing broilers along with some new egg layers.  I need to find the bottom of the freezer to see how many I have left from our last batch, that way I can determine how many I want to order again. We like to do heritage breed birds, so it’s fun to check out the unusual offerings from the hatcheries.  Until then, enjoy winter survival tactics of your own!  Be well, be kind to each other and blessings to you all.

Snow!, Soup and Chickens


Farm dog LOVES heat, best seat in the house


Been so long since I have had the time or inclination to write.  I spent three weeks down and out with the flu before Christmas, and then another one taking care of my two boys that also had the same bug.  It’s a bad one this year, folks.  Four days with a 103.5 fever and coughing like to split a rib.  I believe the worst part about being a homestead mom is when you feel like death, you still need to be sure the chores get done.  Chickens need to be fed, kids and husband need to be fed, house needs to be tidied, the whole shebang.  My husband did get me some things at the store when I needed them.  Ginger ale is the best thing to me when I’m not feeling well.  Don’t know why it works, but its a pick-me-up when I need one, so I did down about a 2 liter bottle of it by myself during that time.  I know, there are lots of herbal things, a bunch of which I also did at the same time, but that ginger ale is key.


I also made a batch of turkey rice soup that we ate off of for a bit.  Another thing that is key when I’m sick is soup.  Works like a charm!  I love soup all winter anyways, but when I’m sick, homemade soup is the best elixir.  As a matter of fact, I am roasting squashes for soup for dinner tonight.  We are in the middle of a snowstorm now, expecting 8-12″ before it’s all done.  So, I figured soup would make a great meal for tonight along with some sourdough grilled cheese sandwiches.  Sometimes, soup is just what the doctor ordered and in a snowstorm, not much competes.  Except, maybe pot roast, pot roast is good, too.


Getting ready for snow storms is always an interesting thing to me.  When I have to head to the store for shopping before a storm (which I really try to avoid at all costs), then it makes me so utterly amused and scared at the same time.  I went at 8:00 am yesterday morning because we had been out of town for a bit and I needed some staples restocked.  I went to the milk aisle, where there were still a few bottles left, but if someone were coming a couple hours later, I bet they were sold out.  The bread aisle was decimated.  I wonder what in people thinks bread and milk are the most important things to have to have for a storm.  My first go to is always water…wouldn’t everyone want to be sure they had water in case the power went out?  I made sure after our last shortage, I have bottled water stored in the basement now.  If power goes out, we’re good for a bit.  And we always have the ability to melt snow if need be.  After this storm passes, we’ll have about a foot and a half on the ground.  At least those folks will have plenty of bread and milk! It does make me realize something though.  In a SHTF (Sh*t hits the fan if you’re unfamiliar with the term) situation, where will people go when the grocery store sells out?  What will happen to the people who have only a day or two food put away in a small pantry, that rely on take out for most of their meals?  Where will they go looking for food?  Did you ever consider this?  Scares me, and makes me more determined to be prepared for an emergency for my family’s sake.  You need a well stocked pantry, folks, its good common sense.


The coop and snowy pen


We’ve been in the clutches of the longest cold snap we have seen in NH in a very long time.  We’ve gotten a reprieve because of the snowstorm, temps are up in the 20’s today, but prior to this it’s been high in the single digits and lows in the – 10 degree range.  I have been having a devil of a time keeping the chickens water thawed out, changing buckets twice each day as they will be frozen solid before nightfall if I don’t.  They are also eating a lot more during this stretch, which is to be expected since they are having to burn a bunch more calories keeping themselves warm, but yikes, organic food is expensive!  I have been supplementing them with some fresh cabbage and apples that are getting soft that I have, so at least they are getting their fresh fruits and veg while they are on lock down. If it gets below 15 degees, I don’t open their coop door.  They won’t come out into their pen anyways because they refuse to jump into the snow.  If I open the coop door, it gives them a bit of fresh air, but also freezes the water that much quicker, and since they won’t come out anyways, I spare them the freezing wind blasts and just leave it closed.  They don’t seem to mind too much and it’s plenty toasty in there, even when it’s below zero.   They have stopped laying in this cold as well, though I’ve only got 2 that are bothering to lay right now anyways, the freeloading slackers.  I did get an egg yesterday, but not knowing it was in the back of the nesting box, it was left until it was frozen solid and then it had cracked and leaked and froze just like that, a freeform egg sculpture.  And we thought chickens didn’t have artistic abilities.

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The hens in the henhouse.  Wonder what they do all day in there?

My poor husband has been bearing a bit of the stress of this cold snap trying to keep the pipes thawed.  We’ve not had a washer in over two weeks because of the frozen drain lines and pipes. He’s spent way too many hours under the house with a hair dryer trying to keep everything functioning.  First winter in a new to us old house, gotta work out all the kinks and “charms”.  There’s a good chance I’m over older homes after this one, so much work and we’re not getting any younger.  The half of the house that doesn’t have adequate heat is the half I spend most of my time in, so sleeping in a bedroom that is in the low 40’s isn’t so bad when you have an electric blanket, but living in a living room all day at those same temps is just not good for the body or the soul.  We’ll figure it out eventually, just takes patience and willingness to endure.




I will end here.  Hoping to be much more frequent with these posts now that I have my computer sitting on an actual desk.  It’s in a room I have to share with the boys tv and my husband’s messy desk, so I find creativity hard to muster this way, but I will do the best I can to keep on keeping on with this.  Stay warm everyone!  Only 74 days until spring!Until then-be well, be kind to each other and blessing to you all.