Winter Blahs, Pantry and Floorboards


005Hello Homesteaders!

I know, I know, it’s been so long since I posted.  The holiday season was emotionally very challenging for me, so I just decided to take a break from some stuff that wasn’t absolutely pertinent.  My house is currently being decluttered as that took a backseat, too.  Around here, I have to militantly stay on top of the clutter with three stuff-loving men and minimalist me, or it gets completely out of hand.  And nothing makes my soul sore in the way that having piles of stuff everywhere does.  Honestly, I just feel like I’m drowning in a sea of stuff sometimes.  I can completely see how “hoarders” get lost in all that baggage and it becomes overwhelming.  I don’t feel good unless my surroundings are in control and things are where they should be.  Do any of us, really?


Things around the homestead have been at a bit of a standstill as it’s winter season here. I got an Instant Pot type cooking appliance for Christmas from my in laws and so have been having fun trying out some different recipes there.  I like that I am able to even pressure can in it for small batches of leftovers and such.  I made chili the other day and if we don’t end up finishing up the leftovers this weekend, I will be putting the rest into pint jars and canning for later in the season.  Not wasting food is a big thing for me, as I guess it is for a lot of us homesteaders.  My husband works so hard to supply the money that purchases either the food directly or the seeds, soil and equipment to make food in our home possible, I feel it is a travesty to throw it away.  Some nights we have some pretty interesting dinner combinations when I’m asked the eternal question, “what’s for supper?”, and the answer comes “Yay! LEFTOVER NIGHT!” when I open the fridge and am met with a plethora of different size Pyrex dishes full of this and that.  That can be met with either smiles if it’s favorite leftover meals, or groans if they didn’t so much care for it the first time around.  But, I’m pretty good at repurposing items like making nachos out of leftover chili, or shepherd’s pie from leftover mashed potatoes, things like that.  Leftover rice finding it’s way into a soup or casserole is also pretty common.  It’s in the creativity of the re-use sometimes that makes it all work out.

Looks like the holidays are over for this kissing ball, too.

Our homestead is looking bleak and wet and basically just plain yucky out there.  We have had a very, very wet autumn and winter season following our rainforest-like summer, and the snow has been elusive.  I am SURE we will be getting dumped on here at some point in the near future, no doubt about it.  If there is one sure thing about New England, we won’t escape the winter without copious amounts of snow.  Often times it doesn’t arrive until January with the weather patterns changing like they have in the last 15 years or so, but it will be coming.  The hardest is when the bulk of it arrives in February and March as we will then have snow into April and that stinks when you are just ITCHING to get the seeds in the ground.  I usually wait for the first good cold and snowy day to sit down with a steaming cup of tea and my seed catalogs and plan out the garden for the spring.  But this year, as I look at the next 10 days of the weather forecast telling me that no real snow is predicted to fall, I’m thinking I may need to get on that task anyways.


I have also been busy with crocheting and knitting projects.  I created for Christmas gifts a couple of hat and scarf combinations for loved ones this year, so had to spend some hours making those.  This was fun as I was able to try out some new stitches on smaller projects.  I’m not great at the yarn arts, mostly because I really dislike counting every row.  But, if you don’t count the stitches in every row, then your project ends up hourglass figure-ish and doesn’t look very nice.  Sometimes even when I do count every row, I get that same affect and I find that really frustrating to work with.  And I know, sometimes it is stitch tension, but I’m careful about that, so don’t always know why that happens.  Currently I am working on an easy hoodie pullover for myself.  That’s coming out pretty well and I may even be able to wear it off the homestead. I do have a few things that I’ve made for myself that are far from perfect and so I wear them exclusively on the homestead.  Here, no one cares that they aren’t perfect.  I love that about my crew.

Now, it just needs paint!

We have been working on smaller projects around the house.  My husband patched a board that is under my office chair that had rot.  Every time I would try to either pull my chair up or back, I had to avoid the rotted board. That got old very quickly and after doing that for over a year, and carving the board up with wheel ruts, he took care of that while I was away a few days ago.  Sometimes its the simple pleasures of just little things that we need to focus on.  It is now much more enjoyable and less aggravating for me to sit at my desk and not try to rally race around the rotted floor board.  We have miscellaneous boards that are rotted here and there on the floor of our almost 200 year old home.  We’ve repaired quite a few of them now, with a few to go.  It’s all a work in progress.  Hubby is also putting some shelves up in the space where we removed the old entry door in the living room, which will be great storage for the items for the tv – like dvds and the blue ray player, stuff like that.  I have painting on my list for the next couple of weeks (and if you’ve been with me for a bit, you know I HATE painting, so that’s been put off as long as I can let it be, time to get on it).  I am also going to be looking into tiling that backsplash in the kitchen, just need to find the right tile.  I have searched and do find some that I like, but then for whatever reason, I don’t actually order them.  So, time to get on that as well.

015Hmmm…other topics…Okay, without getting political here, because I really don’t want to discuss that on this blog (I feel that everyone’s politics are their own business.  What happened to the days of not judging someone by who they voted for?  Back before everyone felt the need to advertise their choices on the front yards?…but I digress), I have become increasingly concerned about the state of our country’s finances.  Having a husband who has been laid off numerous times at the whim of the economy, we’ve had to pay closer attention to this trend than perhaps most do.  So, I have decided to get the pantry in line.  I have been rotating stock, using up the older stuff and finding creative ways to restock the staples in the pantry so that we are prepared with a bit of extra food in the event that it is needed at any point.  Now, living in New England, where we can get ice storms that will leave us pretty incapacitated and without power for even weeks, I keep a decent pantry on hand anyways.  But we have very limited space here with not having a useable basement for storage and so I am always trying to eek whatever precious pantry space I can get out of our little house.  I didn’t do much canning this fall because I was working through all that we already had stored up, so this upcoming harvest season I will be more focused on that for sure.  But, I am feeling a little better knowing that we will be okay for a bit having staples in the pantry and a freezer full of meat in the event that we need it.  Thinking about this has me reconsidering if we should do a flock of meat birds this year to restock the freezer should that be a concern.  It’s never time to think about it WHEN you need it, but long before.  I have three other people along with animals depending on me to plan ahead, and I take that responsibility very seriously.  Yes, time to do some planning, I reckon.


Okay, time to get busy here.  I’ve got some seafood chowder planned for dinner for a friend that is coming over tomorrow and we have a basketball game tonight for our oldest son, along with some firewood that needs stacking.  What do you have planned on your homestead this weekend?  Want to wish each and every one of you a wonderful, healthy, bountiful and peaceful New Year. May 2019 be good to us all.  I’ll be back in touch as soon as I’m able, until then, be well, be kind to each other and blessings to you all.



Autumn, Leaves and Paint Stripping

Our little homestead hearth

Greetings Everyone!  I hope your regions are a tad warmer than ours at the moment.  Fall, that wonderful, beautific, welcome season has arrived here with full force.  Our temps were colder a bit quicker than we are used to here, but to be honest, after one of the hottest and wettest summers on record, I was very ready for its arrival.  You will not hear me complain about the arrival of the blessed harvest season.  I have a very special affinity for this season and all its beauty (I am in New England, after all!) and the cooler temps it brings along with it.  This chubby homesteader doesn’t do heat!

Oh, the wonders of the autumn season here in New Hampshire are glorious.  We had quite a remarkable foliage season, which is coming to a close now.  In fact the northern parts of the state received a few inches of snow over the weekend.  I am not quite ready for that, though we did finally invest in a new snow blower yesterday.  If you recall, our old faithful gave up the ghost last winter and we ended up shoveling our way through many, many, many feet of snow.  Not going to happen this year, it was just too much physically on my husband and I.  We do have a strong, younger workforce, but being teenagers, their time on the homestead is greatly reduced by their activities and burgeoning social lives.  And now the oldest wants a job to earn actual money for things like driver’s ed and dates, you know, teenage things.  I couldn’t believe that driver’s ed is now anywhere between $600 and $800 to take the course!  When I had to take it a million years ago it was $85.00, and when my husband took it, it was part of the curriculum offerings of his alma mater.  This is the same school my children are attending, but it is no longer part of the school.  Yikes!  We started to prepare the oldest for having to pay for driver’s ed himself since he was 12, and so when he began farm sitting back then, he has been saving almost all he’s earned since and has almost saved enough to pay for the course himself.  He doesn’t know this, but we’re going to chip in a bit to make it happen for him.  Not only do I need another driver in the house as I’m going back to working off the homestead, but we’re also proud of him for saving just about every dime he’s earned for something he wants.  The boys also have a trip to Disney in the spring that their band has been invited to perform on, so they are saving for that as well.

Happening around the homestead is this wonderful site.  We are needing to strip the paint off the house as it was peeling fairly seriously.  So, we invested in a pressure washer and went to town.  I know, it’s not the prettiest site and unfortunately it will need to look like this through the winter as we have run out of warm enough days to paint it now.  It has cedar clapboards, so we’re not worried about the weather affecting it, but it does look quite sad and hideous at the moment.  We thought we would have enough time to get at least a primer coat on it before the cold set in, it’s happening a bit earlier than usual this year.  But that was not to be, so it will be first on the list for the spring to get that done, and it will be a happy day once it has it’s shiny new coat of blue paint with white trim.  Hoping to cheer it up a bit, the cream color it was before was a bit…bland for our tastes.  It is a real shame that it was ever painted at all.  It was painted for the first time not long ago, and the siding under it was weathered. Paint doesn’t last on weathered wood, we learned that the hard way painting a deck in another home when it should have been pressure washed first.  The cedar siding is pretty and after the pressure washer took off the gray “weather” of the wood, its quite nice.  If we were able to cleanly and completely strip off the paint that is on it, we would leave the cedar but it doesn’t come off entirely, so it will need another paint job.

Top on the list for the fall was to get the firewood under process.  We purchased two cords of green wood to season for next winter, which is what you see stacked here.  The boys stacked this for us and it is a very nice feeling to know that no matter what the weather may bring, we will be warm.  We have another 2 or so cords that is seasoned but needs to be split still that we will be using this winter as it hasn’t been on a trunk in a several years.  The cherry tree that my husband cut up that fell earlier this summer is also split and ready to weather out the winter drying stacked in a row to be ready for next year.  All in all, we should have a good three cords to burn in the new woodstove that is in the living room next winter and about 2 or 2 1/2 for this year.  We have had a couple of fires in it already since it was put in last weekend and oh, what a difference it makes in that side of the house!  There is just nothing like the heat of a woodstove, infernal and comforting.

The garden has been completely put to bed now.  I pulled the last of the sweet peppers in pre-emptively before the first hard frost showed up.  So, consequently I have a lot of green peppers hanging around.  No one in my house likes the flavor of green sweet peppers, so I am not sure what I am going to do with them.  Right now, they are sitting in a box by a window getting indirect sunlight hoping they will go red.  If not, I may just freeze them and add them in small amounts to things like salsa and stir frys this winter.  I can hide veggies in some interesting places when I have to, I’ve even been known to put spinach in brownies, but that’s a post for another time. I left my carrots in the garden and all the beds are well mulched with maple leaves right now so they can overwinter getting some nutrition and protection from their bark bearing sentries.  I mentioned salsa up above, I made and canned a couple of good batches this year.  I had some ginormous zucchini that hid from me in the abundant leaves and so decided to make salsa with those. It is actually delicious!  I will do a follow up to this post with the zucchini salsa recipe for you.  I also did a batch of garden salsa that is pretty good as well.  Salsa made with garden fresh veggies is just amazing in the dead of winter. 4 feet of snow on the ground and you pop open a lid of that, grab the tortilla chips and a cocoa and put on a good movie while you watch it snow.  It’s one of the comforts of winter in New Hampshire, and I will always make salsa and pick blueberries when the veggies and fruits are in season because they just taste so amazing when everything outside is frozen and barren.

Well, time to wrap it up for this post.  I’m wishing for you that your autumn season is as cozy and wonderful as ours has been.  I hope your to-do list gets done before the snow flies in your area and that the upcoming Thanksgiving season brings you many blessings.  It is just about time to enter the restful time of winter for us, hope you are enjoying autumn in your hearts as the season moves along.  Until next time, be well, be kind to each other and many blessings to you all.

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Rest well, you’ve earned it.

Grapes, Ribs and An Update

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Hello Everyone!  It’s been a crazy busy summer here at Grace Note.  We’ve had the boys in marching band, necessitating me running back and forth to drop them off and pick them up daily (it’s about 13 or so miles to their school from here, so many miles traveled).  They are now back in school and so my schedule just got a lot busier! We’ve been working on the garden and also spending some time having fun with the family.  We had a nice overnight getaway with the boys and they went to a water park, we shopped in our favorite town (Freeport, Maine) for a bit and ate out a couple of times, which we don’t do often.  It was a very needed and welcome change of scenery for us.

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Recently, I discovered that we have very fruitful grape vines growing on our front fence!  Now, I knew the vines were there of course, because they are large and sprawling, but I did not know we would be getting a plethora of grapes from them.  And these aren’t wild grapes as you would find growing everywhere else in our town.  We had many of those at our last house, and I made some of the world’s best tasting grape jelly from them.  The flavor on the wild ones is so intensely grape it’s awesome for jelly.  But these are seedless and much sweeter than wild grapes. Also the location of the vines tends to tell me that they were planted to grow along that fence.  God bless the soul that planted those lovelies for another family to enjoy!  I tasted them when they weren’t ripe.  And they were N-A-S-T-Y!

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Then, I decided to try again once they were dark purple.  Heavenly!  Over the weekend, I went through and harvested all I could find, leaving some for the fairies and elementals, of course.  You never want to take all the food you find to forage as that tends to bring bad luck to you later.  It may be a silly superstition, but I am taking no chances, so I leave some for the birds and animals that I share my plot with, too.  I got enough to make some juice out of once we were done snacking on them.  Above is the amount that made 2 1/2 quarts of juice.

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Once I took the stems off, and crushed them, I added just a bit of water to cover them and brought them to a boil on medium-high heat until they were rolling. Then, reducing to simmer, I let them simmer for about a 1/2 hour until the skins were nice and soft.  You can see in the picture above that they aren’t truly seedless, but when you pull the fresh grape from the vine, most of those seeds dislodge from the grape and remain with the stem.  Some of them didn’t, and so you can see them there in this picture.  After I simmered the grapes, I strained the solids out with a fine mesh sieve and fed the left over pulp to the chickens.  The juice is currently sitting in my fridge where it will remain for a couple few days until the sediment has settled and I can skim off the clearer juice.  Right now the whole batch is very cloudy.  Now, I will either can it in pint jars and get 5 of those or I will just make jam out of it…if I can keep the kids from drinking it first.  That’s never a given around here, I have to watch them like a hawk.  Teenagers can put a serious dent in your food supplies if you just let them have free range.

So, I may have already told you this, but my husband is a serious pack rat.  It can border on hoarder if I don’t intervene.  So, it’s always dangerous when he happily trips off to the transfer station here in town on Saturday because, more times than not, he will bring home something.  A couple of months or so ago he came home with that lovely blue Webber charcoal grill.  He has been talking about wanting to get one for a long time, but since we have to weigh expenses around here, heat and the electric bill usually win out long before his need for a grill he will only use occasionally.  BUT, that day he went to the transfer station and brought home this beauty, was a good day indeed.  It was rusted through on a couple of parts and was missing the rack. It was being dropped off for the metal recycling pile by our friend, Baron, who had since gotten a new grill to replace this one. Well, if it’s fixable and still in decent shape, we can’t let that happen, now can we? So, he skipped off (okay, he didn’t skip, but for the visual, it was necessary.  Plus, he was happy enough to find this thing that he could have been skipping) to the local Ace hardware and found the parts he needed to fix it.  I will tell you, handy husbands are truly the best kind.  He has saved us so much money figuring out how to fix things, he amazes me.  But I digress…so after spending about an hour or so replacing the rusted and missing pieces, we now have a nice new-to-us Webber grill!  He has been wanting to figure out how to smoke a nice rack of ribs since our friend, Scott, made them for us one night almost 20 years ago now, they were perfect.  Michael has tried many times to smoke them on the gas grill, but they never came out tender and juicy and falling of the bone.  Good, but not great, you know?  Since he got this grill, we have enjoyed three rib dinners and this last one you see above was divine.  I’m not joking, so amazing!  We all enjoyed his experiments thoroughly.  So, thank you Baron, for giving this grill to my husband instead of trashing it, we will cherish it for years to come.  And perhaps we’ll even invite you for some ribs…

18-09-04 010 Okay, so let’s get onto homestead news.  Gardens got about a 5 out of 10 this year.  First year and lots of things went wrong.  Terrible early blight on the tomatoes, so I didn’t get much of a harvest from those. I didn’t quite work the potato boxes correctly, so the yield wasn’t as high as it could have been, I planted the beans too close together for the few pollinators we did have this summer (distinct lack of those here for sure, contrary to what the above picture looks like).

Can we discuss squash beetles and powdery mildew?  I had vine borer beetles in the spring and thankfully the plants managed to survive them, but then these little demons moved in and I’m battling them now.  And then there’s the ever lovely powdery mildew or as I like to call it, Satan’s snot.  It moved in and I battled it with milk spray, but it had too good of a hold before I saw it and it was here to stay…along with the mosaic on the cukes.  Yep, a very frustrating gardening year here.  But, lessons were learned, and I will be much more proactive next year in nipping this crap in the bud before it becomes this big of a problem for us again. So frustrating!

But there is some good news! Though we didn’t get an abundant crop of food this year, we did get some really wonderful and interesting varieties!  I love the crinkly peppers (they are sweet) and the roly poly tomatoes (they are heirloom, and the flavor is amazing).  You can see the blighty leaves around the tomatoes, when I saw that show up I wanted to cry.

We also managed to get some wonderful beans, as well. I planted 4 types of beans this year- two green, one yellow wax and then there’s the above long red ones.  I saw them in Baker Creek catalog and KNEW I had to try them this year!  They are very hearty, as the mosaic, heat nor bugs did them in and they are producing these incredible long reddish purple beans.  They resemble noodles and are supposed to be good in stirfrys.  I harvested a bunch of them today and am adding them to our menu tonight so am hoping for the best with them.  I don’t know if they would can very well, but I think they would be pretty in a jar in any case and may give it a try if I end up with enough of them.  I just love experimenting with new veggies and flowers, it’s wonderful to expand your horizons and I recommend it highly.

I will leave you with some of the wonderful flowers that are blooming here on the homestead.  I am so very ready for this hot, humid and bug filled summer to makes its departure, and hoping for a beautiful, chilly and long autumn season.  We have wood to split and gardens to put to bed here, and I’m anxious to get that woodstove installed soon.  I am also direly needing a creative outlet right now and so may be picking up a few sewing projects and doing more with this blog as well.  What projects are you planning for the coming autumn season?  Are you ready for some more restful time to come?  Until then, be well, be kind to each other and blessings to you all.

Blueberries, Coffee Cake and Buckle!

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Hello All!

I wonder if your summer is as hot and steamy as ours has been so far this year.  The days have been hazy, the ocean water warmer then I remember it being here, and the farm dog has been getting a nightly cool down hosing. It is definitely not typical to have so much humidity up here in New England and it’s been taking its toll on us (well, mostly me as I just don’t do heat).  Today is the umpteenth day in a row with very high humidity.  My hair looks like I’ve been on a homestead bender for the last couple of weeks, it’s so frizzy and unmanageable.  Also, cleaning out those pores very well with all the sweating!  It’s been beastly.  Did I mention I don’t do heat?

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My dear friend, Diane (a fellow homesteader), and I went blueberry picking at our favorite little pick-your-own farm in Stratham, NH.  It’s called Blueberry Bay and they have wonderful organically raised blueberries.  It’s our favorite place to go, pick, chat, eat a blueberry or two and just enjoy some time spent off our homesteads together.  Part of the blueberry fields is on a tree line and if you get there early in the morning, you can pick in the shade, a very welcome relief from all the heat.  We went the day after a pretty serious thunderstorm and the bushes were all still wet.  They are very mature bushes and a lot of them are growing right out into the path, so you have to pass through all the branches and leaves as you move along.  Needless to say, we were soaked by the time we finished picking.  Honestly, that worked out fine because we were pretty well dried before we left and it helped to keep us cool while we picked (snacked, whatever).  We have gone twice this summer already and now have our freezers stocked with delicious fruit to last us into the winter season so we can make lots of blueberry muffins, breads and pies during the long cold winter.  Nothing brings back summer during a snowstorm quite like the delicious flavor of blueberry pie from berries stored away from the height of the season, right in your own freezer.  It’s happiness on a plate!

I made my guys a couple of blueberry coffee cakes to start their days off right.  Michael loves to have a piece of coffee cake with his coffee on a lazy Sunday morning, sitting outside enjoying the fresh air and our little patch of woods.  He’s cooped up in a building in a cubicle most of the days so it’s a very necessary thing for him to be able to just sit and enjoy a morning relaxing.  And if there’s a hot, fresh coffee cake slice sitting on a plate next to him, well, so much the better!

I’m very sorry I didn’t get a picture of the coffee cakes.  I was baking them in the heat and so was working very hard to just get them done so I could get out of the hot kitchen.  Subsequently, I didn’t feel up to a photo shoot at the same time.  However, I assure you, this recipe is divine.  If you’re a fan of blueberries and coffee cake, give this a whirl.  I promise you won’t be disappointed. So yummy!!

Blueberry Buckle

3/4 c sugar                                                                              1 1/2 c blueberries, fresh or frozen

1/4 c shortening                                                                     1/2 c sugar

2 eggs                                                                                        1/3 c flour

1/2 c milk                                                                                  1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2c flour                                                                               1/4 c butter

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

Mix shortening, sugar, eggs and milk until well blended.  Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cloves.  Add slowly to wet ingredients.  Stir until well combined, but don’t overwork the batter.  Fold in blueberries.  Spread batter into a greased 9″ square pan.  Combine remaining ingredients and mix until crumbly.  Sprinkle crumbs over batter.  Bake in a 375 degree preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched.  Serve warm, cut into squares.  If desired, serve with lemon sauce (which would be lovely!).

This cake is super easy to throw together on a busy morning, or if you want something ready for when you return from church or morning chores.  It’s delicious served cold also, or stands up to being reheated in a microwave as well.

I will have other homestead news when I have a chance to sit down and figure out what I want to talk about.  We had another sad loss here, and the garden is doing well in some spots and awful in others.  I’ve been canning some and planning what comes next on that front.  I’ll get around to all of that in my next post.  Today, I just wanted to share some summer tastes with you.  Enjoy!  Until next time, be well, be good to each other and blessings to you all.


Garden, Blow Downs and Night Shades


Hello All!  Sorry it’s been quite some time since I’ve sat down and taken the time to write.  My life is JUST slowing down now that the boys are home from their school and weeks of summer camp.  Everything is in full swing here, but we will finally have a chance to breathe and enjoy the summer.  School hectic-ness is done for the year, sports teams are all past the finals and Boy Scouts is now on hiatus.  A lot of these things affect my husband’s schedule more than mine and for a bit we were literally ships in the night passing each other on our way in from or out to another of the boys activities.  Phew, what a spring it was!

Okay, so I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath to see how the potato boxes are performing…well, you can see above!  On the top left, we started with layer one, which was about 2 cubic feet of soil in one row of boards.  As they started to grow, we added another row of boards and another 2-3 cubic feet of soil.  The top right shows the first layer where I then added more soil to cover the greens and prompt the potatoes to send out roots for a whole new set of potatoes. The bottom photo shows what it looks like this morning!  This is all theoretical for us as we’ve not started to remove the bottom layer of boards yet to investigate just what is actually happening so far down in the box.  It will be exciting once we do, however!  I love new adventures in growing.


Did you know that potatoes produce flowers? They do!  This is the flower of the “La Ratte” variety potato, aptly named because the potatoes grow in a formation that is a central oblong (loosely rat size) small potato with what looks like babies next to it.  They are a fingerling variety I have grown in the past in a more traditional setting, and they are super delicious and creamy. If you ever get the chance to try one, do so, it is very worth every taste.  So far the best performing grower has been the German Butterball variety, the greens are so full and abundant, but the proof will be once we actually start taking them apart once the greens are dying back so we can see what has produced the most potatoes.


This is the garden as it grows this morning.  Michael made some trellises for me to tie the tomatoes up on, and we were very late getting that done, so there is a lot of growth that has gone everywhere up until now.  The only other thing left to do is trellis the cucumbers which are definitely needing that now as well.  We harvested two from the vines for dinner the other night and they were just delicious!  Since it has been three years since I had a garden, that was a very nice moment for me.  Next ones I harvest will be making some cucumber sandwiches, yum!

My friend, Laura, grows an amazing amount of veggie starts in her little green house.  So, since she’s so wonderfully successful at it…and I am not…she starts some of my goodies when I have a garden each season.  This is just three of the varieties of heirloom tomatoes that I have growing so far.  I can’t wait to taste the purple ones in the middle,  hoping for something a little sweeter then your average tomato.  The last one on the right, you can just barely see in the photo the tiny cherries that this one will be producing.  They are in the Sungold family, so they will be yellow, and I can eat them like candy once they ripen.  I am, however, battling the evil early blight with all of them.  The last time (three years ago) I got superloam compost/soil from the company I got it from again to fill my beds, I ended up with early blight that year, too.  I made the mistake of not mulching the garden at all and so the soil has bounced the blight up onto the tomatoes that weren’t trellised soon enough and it has caused this problem.  My own maintenance fault, unfortunately. I would have purchased the superloam elsewhere except they are the only ones in the area we can guarantee is organic…and organic is super important to me…so we deal with it. Hoping that I’ll get tomatoes in spite of the blight and next year, I will do it better and differently.  And I will find mulching material that isn’t either full of seeds (straw) or poison ivy filled grass clippings, ideally I’d like wood chips, but they are hard to find that will be guaranteed poison ivy free around here.  The poison ivy grows in big rope vines around most the trees in my area.

During one of our powerful rain storms back in the spring (and we had a couple!), we had a black cherry tree blow over.  Just snapped the roots which were under the surface only, and the tree toppled over onto our neighbor’s property…taking our split rail fence down with it.  This was a tree that, as you can see from the above pictures, was in good shape, no rot on it.  We were very surprised it fell as quickly as it did, but also made me yet again thankful that we took down the grandmother oak that was next to, and hanging over, our house and garage, when we bought the property.  This black cherry came down with some force and it was a mere amount of what the oak would have been if it had landed on any buildings.  Also very thankful that the black cherry didn’t hit the house, but fell in the opposite direction.  It will make some beautiful firewood, though.  If we had had a way to get it out of there, I would have loved to saw into boards to make something from it, but it was not possible where and the way it fell to remove it in one piece.  I did ask Michael to cut me a slab of one of the rounds so I could make a nice little outdoor table for our chairs with it, I think that will be a nice tribute to it.


Other than this, and our busy schedules, things here are plugging along on the homestead.  We had the energy audit done and now are deciding on what we would like to accomplish for improvements in insulation and such so that we don’t spend almost $3,500 heating our tiny 1300 sq ft home again this winter!  I really wanted the basement done, but the electric company that matches our funds is not willing to invest any money in that for whatever reason, so it looks like that will need to take a back seat so we can upgrade the insulation in between the ceiling and roof on the second floor and also the walls of the main house. Not a stitch of insulation in any of it besides what we put in when we tore out the kitchen and our bedroom walls.  It’s going to be a big project, but the 1/2 cost up to $4,000 in improvements the electric company will match to do this work, is a huge boost for how much we can have done, so I won’t griping about that.  Nope, not at all.  More on that once we settle on when it will get done.  We won’t be on their schedule until the fall because we’ve gotten a late start on that as well, but we’ll take what we can get before the snow flies.


Alright, going to end here!  Soon will be canning season in full swing, so I am enjoying a little respite while I have it.  More on that and also some recipes for the blueberries that I picked this week with my sistah-from-another-mothah, Diane.  This morning’s treat for my menfolk was blueberry coffee cake.  No one was complaining.

Until next time-be well, be kind to each other and blessings to you all.

Potatoes, Flowers and Busy Schedules


G’day, Mates!   Been such a busy month here at the homestead, I’ve barely had time to sit and ponder what to write for you folks.  Unfortunately, the homestead has not seen the bulk of the work around here.  I have two teens as you know, and one of them just started baseball season, along with having competitive shooting practice and he’s also a snare drummer with his high school marching band-along with being in concert band.  The end of the year tends to be crazy busy for the students and parents alike, especially if you have a child in spring sports, or one that plays music.  The end of the year concerts are always happening.  My youngest is also a percussion player for his school band as well as belonging to the jazz band and we have many concerts coming up, along with my oldest marching in the Memorial Day parade today for the town he attends school in.  That coupled with finals coming up, and field trips for the youngest (he had THREE last week), has our heads spinning.  Yep, busy time on the homestead.

My youngest is graduating from middle school in a couple of weeks and I will soon be the mother of two high school students.  That is just completely surreal for me as it seems like just yesterday that they were squalling, screaming little newborns…my boys were both born ill and that was their first 6 months, in pain and crying most of their waking hours.  Another story, but that is a whole lifetime ago that I don’t want to go into much.  When my nephews’ clothes that they had outgrown were passed along to my guys for “someday” when they grew into them, I would look at them and think they would never be big enough to fit into them.  Those were when they were little.  Now, my oldest is officially an inch taller than me (and I’m not a short woman at 5’9″) and catching up to his dad very quickly. I’m not eye to eye with my youngest yet, but he’s not far behind his brother now.  They are predicted to be 6 feet by their pediatrician before they are done growing.  Ah, man-sized help on the homestead is a beautiful thing!


Flowers have been arriving all around us.  This is the time of year that I treasure for new life and beautiful flowers.  Since cutting back the wild roses, we have seen some of the actual planted flowers around the homestead having room to rejuvenate and bloom. New to us this year that were uncovered were these two beautiful varieties of irises.  Above, a wonderful delicate little yellow one…


…and these stunning purple ones! Since those purple are my mother’s favorite flower, I have been thinking of her every time I see them when I walk the dog by them…many times a day!


I have planted some in pots as I love the pop of color in unexpected places.  Some of them are super fun, like these carnival petunias.  I just loved the color pop of the yellow and red together, so cute!


Then, what spring is complete without the adorable, quaint little pansies.  I love purple and yellow together!  Once the weather turns warmer, they get crusty, brown and will grow leggy, so they are definitely most happy in the cool spring temperatures.

The potato boxes are working out great so far!  I don’t have any idea if they are actually producing any potatoes in there, but they are super easy to deal with, water and add to.  As you can see, the green has grown quickly and my biggest challenge with them so far is having enough soil ready to fill the box more and cover the new growth.  I may try doing this with a combination of straw and soil next year if we actually get growth all the way up the box as this design is supposed to produce. I planted potatoes in a straw mound one year and the yield was pretty good and it was so much easier to deal with than the soil was. If I was direct planting in the ground, it wouldn’t be a problem, and I have done this in the past as well.  I am having fun trying new ideas to see what works out the best, hopefully it will be worth the cost and trouble for the boxes, it remains to be seen.  This is also a tough sell when we can buy organically grown potatoes for $.50/lb right here in town, but I just really like growing my own. This year, I did try to concentrate on some items in the garden that I can’t readily get from farmer’s markets close by as we have very limited space to plant this year.  Hopefully next year we double the space, but we may have to spread it about the property.  We have a strange lot which is more than 50% wooded, and overgrown with lots of wild roses, poison ivy and bittersweet vines.  We may have to have some help from some machinery to get it all back under some semblance of usability.

Garden beds have had some complications.  We have decided to till what we have for soil to see what we are dealing with, but when my husband went to put the tiller to soil, the gas tank proceeded to leak gas all over…grrr…it’s always something getting in the way of progress it seems.  We were originally going to do raised beds, but with having to order soil, compost and the wood to make the beds, it was stretching the budget very tight to get that done, so we thought we’d try to just till and do the wood chip mulch “back to eden” method.  Since we really need to do that in the fall to start with, our timing isn’t ideal, but this coming fall we will be making that happen on any spaces we plan on planting next spring.


My wonderful friend raises more plants then she can possibly use every spring in her green house, and she so kindly passes some along to me.  So, I have lots of plants to get in the soil, ready to go, I just need somewhere to put them…easier said then done.

We continue to be a work in progress around here and things are always in some stage toward completion.  Coming this month we are getting an energy audit done by the power company as we have qualified for some assistance to improve the energy efficiency of our drafty old house.  This is a program being offered by most power companies, so if you, like us have a house that is completely inefficient, you can obtain some assistance in upgrading things like insulation in your home to make it more livable in the frigid winters.  Since we spent almost $3,500 to heat our home last winter, we certainly qualified!  Our tiny little home that is only just over 1,300 feet, that we kept the heat at 57 in the main part of the house, leaving our bedroom in the mid 40’s most of the winter (and we had to spend considerable money to keep it from being freezing in there!), and with its frozen pipes to boot.  Yes, very anxiously awaiting the energy audit happening this month and getting the appointments set up for them to actually come work on the house. We’re going to focus on improving the insulation and sealing the basement up so that our floors aren’t completely freezing and keep the pipes from freezing.  Ah, plans!  If we can afford it and assuming the program is still available, we will work on upgrading the wall and roof insulation next year.


Okay, that’s news from the homestead.  I hope you are all knee-deep in planting and taking the time to enjoy your spring blossoms.  Until next time, be well, be kind to each other and blessings to you all.




Wild Roses, Potatoes and Kombucha


Spring!  Glorious spring!!  It has finally arrived here at the Homestead.  It’s been such a long time coming here and we are rejoicing in it.  Of course, its supposed to be 86 degrees on Friday here and I’m not looking forward to that this early in the year…but, with the winter we had, I won’t complain about it.   We’ve even seen black flies and mosquitos and I’m not even complaining about them yet, that’s how you can be assured what type of winter we had here.

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With the advent of spring, some different things are popping up in our grocery stores here.  I found some pretty organic strawberries, so we had the first of many strawberry shortcakes for the summer season the other night.  I was also able to make a batch of strawberry ginger Kombucha as well.  Can’t wait for that second ferment to bubble up so I can give it a try!  What the heck is kombucha you ask?  Well, it is a fermented tea drink that contains an amazing amount of beneficial bacteria that feeds the good stuff in your gut.  It helps with digestion, but has been linked to all kinds of great things for your body.  If you’d like some in-depth info on it, google the benefits of kombucha and you will be amazed.  For 22 years, I struggled with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), sick and not willing to take medication with horrible side affects.  After reading up on this, I started myself on a regimen of fermented cabbage (sauerkraut) and kombucha.  And after a 22 year battle, within two months, no more symptoms.  Gone, completely.  So, I am a big believer in the benefits of fermented foods in our diets.

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My sister-in-law invited me to join her for a class on making kombucha at home.  Now, if you’ve been someone who purchases it, you know how appealing that is.  This stuff is liquid gold and quite expensive to buy.  The 1 liter jar you see above, when I originally bought it was $8.99.  I kept the old bottles because they are perfect for making new batches from scratch. Many brands will charge $3.99+ for a 16oz bottle of it!  So, I was paying those prices because it is necessary for my health.   I am now able to make organic kombucha at home for about $.50/liter! At this class, we learned how to make the concoction on our own, and the instructor even gifted us with our own “scoby” to take home.  The scoby is the “mother” to the ferment.  It contains the beneficial yeast and bacteria that continues to grow and change and ferment the tea.  Homestead photos 1 006

This is the scoby, along with some reserved kombucha. I know, it looks gross, and it’s kind of scary at first.  It’s slimy and grows in layers and can cause you to pause if you think about it too much, but all I know is this magical little substance makes my body very happy. So, I think of it like a layer cake…and when you get too many layers, you can share them with friends…or chickens…or the compost pile.  I got my hubby hooked on kombucha before he saw this, and honestly it’s a good thing.  It’s rather unappealing in reality.  He saw me making a new batch one day, took one look at this mass in the bowl and said “What is THAT?”.  I told him the magic scoby, nothing to see here, move along.  If you want to have a healthy body biome, the ferments are crucial.  If you’d like more info on this, you can comment below and I will refer you to some of the many sources I have researched on fermented food and kombucha. I highly recommend adding it to your self-care, it’s good stuff.

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Are you wondering what you are looking at here?  A wall of vines, a new crochet project I’m working on, or perhaps the entrance to the West Gate of Moria?  No, this is the horrible, snarly, blood inducing wild rose vines that cover a good portion of our property.  The boys and I spent a good chunk of their school vacation this week beating some of this into submission and reclaiming some of our back yard.  It looks great now that we have put many hours into removing it.  My husband actually began to tackle this particular patch of it just this morning after finishing a large patch behind the chicken coop.  It really does rip the crap out of your skin as its covered in thorns and on some of these plants that are older, there are huge thorns that will rip a serious gash in you.  I know, this sounds like so much fun, you can’t wait to join in removing it, right?  This is only made better by the icing on this particular cake, the poison ivy that intermingles with a lot of it as well.  My oldest son forgot not to scratch his face with his gloves (despite many reminders not to touch bare skin) and he now has a face that looks like it’s flaming with acne but it actually covered in poison ivy.  Poor kid!!  And I managed to get it on my legs and the itch will drive you into insanity.  Especially at night when you’re covered by the sheets that, for whatever reason, seems to irritate it more than even pants do.

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Piles of vines waiting to burn
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The Thorn Warrior finally getting to mow in the backyard!

We have much more to remove, it will be an ever-present struggle because if you see the picture above, beyond the fence is our neighbor’s property.  This lot is covered in these vines.  Which will forever want to make its way across that fence line to re-infest our side of nirvana.  We’re up to the challenge, bring it!Homestead photos 1 021

This year’s experiment for me in the garden will be these new potato boxes.  I have purchased indeterminate types of potatoes to plant in them, which should start a new set of spuds in each layer of dirt that is added to the box as it grows up.  When the greens start to be about 6 inches, a new layer of soil is added and a new board to the sides.  By the time the potatoes are ready to be harvested, the boxes will be 36 inches high and hopefully contain a lot of potatoes!

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The Wee Three as I like to call them.  I’m hopeful that trying to get them to grow vertically instead of horizontally will work out of us.  We don’t have a lot of space for a garden here, so I’m trying to embrace the planter and container growing where I need to.   I have another great idea to grow my harvest that needs trellising, like cukes and beans and peas in large planter boxes that with the trellis will allow us some privacy in the backyard. We currently have none, and as I have explained previously, we live on a fairly busy road that is a pass through from one community to another.  We always said we would not live in another house on one of these roads, but you have to go where the budget allows and so here we are, determined to make the best of it.

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I hope that this spring is finding you happily ensconced in your own projects and dreams.  Soon, an update on the garden and perhaps a new deck in the future as well. Until then, be well, be kind to each other and blessings to you all.




Mushrooms, Brussels Sprouts and Crochet

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Spring has certainly taken its time arriving to us.  We had an extremely mild February, which was followed by a bear of a March and seems to want to keep us in the chill for April.  The 10 day forecast on the website for our area doesn’t have us higher than the 40’s for the next 10 days.  Bah Humbug.  I’m very ready for spring and I’ve a feeling, like our last Autumn season, we’re gonna be robbed.  It will go right from early spring to full-blown summer.  I am not a woman of average size, and I also have a medical condition that makes heat very hard for me to bear, so I am not looking forward to that little battle.    But, it is what it is, right?  Homesteading is nothing if it isn’t about adapting to what comes your way daily.

So, you see my bowl at the top of the page.  That bowl is my favorite pasta bowl, I have had it for about 25 years now.  I bought that at the Crate and Barrel outlet store way back when, I just loved its cheery colors, it makes me feel like a summer day.  So, I pulled it out and decided that I would take care of that craving that I’ve been having for some soup.  I am a huge mushroom fan, but alas, my husband doesn’t like them.  At all.  He tells me he’s allergic to them so that’s why he won’t eat them (umm…the fact that he’s allergic to lobster and also milk doesn’t stop him from consuming those delicacies…but I digress).  That’s okay for the most part, but when I get a hankering for them, I need to just make it for myself and the boys.

Since we’ve been having chilly and rainy weather the last couple of days, it seemed the fitting meal for me to have a go at.  I subscribe to Mother Earth Living.  I’m sure there isn’t a homesteader out there that doesn’t know about Mother Earth, right?  This is the sister magazine, geared mostly for women is my take on it, that has a lot of natural living type articles on all topics.  The January/February issue had an article on meals that can be made from wild mushrooms.  I made the “mushroom bacon” recipe, thought it too salty and spicy for my taste, but I will do it again because the results were good enough to want to add it to my soup and perhaps make a MLT sandwich with it as well.  I decided to make the “Wild Mushroom Chowder” they featured.  I happen to have a bag of Shiitake mushrooms in the freezer and I bought King Trumpet and Portobellos to go in it as well.  It was good, though a bit bland for my taste buds.  I’m a spices, herbs and flavor kinda girl.  The recipe is actually vegan, but I added some stuff to it that I felt it needed, and one of the ingredients (which you can leave out if you prefer the vegan style) makes it vegetarian rather than vegan.  If you’d like to give it a try, I recommend it.  It is creamy (without cream), warming and hearty and I will for sure be adding it to my soup file for the fall and winter cooking.  Or the chilly and rainy spring day, grumble, grumble, grumble.  It is nice accompanied by crusty bread warm from the oven as well, or a side salad of spring greens with a citrus dressing.  Hope you enjoy this one!Blog ables 4-4-18 005

Wild Mushroom Chowder

makes 9 cups, about 6 generous servings

3 tbsp miso paste

3 tbsp coconut oil

3 medium leeks, trimmed, washed and thinly sliced

7 cups wild or other mushrooms, diced into 1/2″ pieces

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

3/4 lb red potatoes, cut into 1/2″ cubes

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 cup unsalted raw cashews, soaked overnight in water and drained

3 tbsp arrowroot powder (or cornstarch works as well)

1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar if you don’t have the red wine kind)

2 tbsp minced fresh parsley

Then I added to the recipe, because it was bland to me:

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce (I used sirracha), or less if you prefer just a hint of heat

dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream to garnish

  1.  In blender, combine miso paste and 4 1/2 cups water to make a broth, set aside.
  2. In heavy-bottomed pot, warm oil over medium heat.  Add leeks and saute 2 minutes to soften, add mushrooms and garlic (if using) with  salt and pepper, and saute another 5 minutes more, stirring often.  Add potatoes, thyme and blended miso broth along with hot pepper sauce (if using ).  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
  3. In blender, combine 1 cup water with cashews, arrowroot powder (or corn starch if substituting) and vinegar until smooth and creamy.  No chunks should appear, it should be silky smooth texture.  Add mixture to soup, and return to simmer.  Continue to cook, uncovered for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes to thicken well.
  4. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with a sprinkle of parsley, and dollop of yogurt of sour cream, if using.  Enjoy!

Since I couldn’t make this for a meal for the household, I enjoyed it for lunch with a bunch left over to bring to my friend’s house for lunch tomorrow and for my boys to enjoy on a night they might need to cook for themselves. It should freeze well.  For supper, I decided to make a lovely baked dill salmon tonight, with crusty bread and since brussels sprouts season is arriving soon, I made up a recipe with brussels sprouts. This is also good with any type of meat or served in a warm sandwich as well, we like it with warmed sliced turkey sub with onion jelly.  Must get those cruciferous veggies in, they stave off the cancer!  And for my vegetarian mother and nieces, this would be really good in a warmed pita bread with the onion jelly on its own as well.

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Cranberry Brussels Sprouts With Almonds

4 generous servings

1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed and washed well, sliced about 1/4″ slices

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup sliced almonds

3 tbsp bacon grease (or olive oil, but you’ll miss the lovely bacon smokiness)

  1. Put cranberries in a mug and cover with boiling water, let sit for about 15 minutes while you prepare the other steps.  Drain before using in recipe.

2. Melt bacon grease (or olive oil) in bottom of pan over medium heat.  Add almonds and saute quickly, stirring constantly.

3. Add shredded brussels sprouts and saute until just beginning to wilt.  Then add drained cranberries and continue cooking for another 2 minutes until all is warmed through.  Serve immediately.

As you can see, its been cooking here mostly.  We did get a start on our potato boxes, and I’m going to post on that next.  Wanted to try them in raised boxes this year to see how they work out.  We’re using a bunch of wood we had left from other projects here and we’re also going to be making a bunch of raised beds for other veggies and I’ll be posting on those as soon as there’s something to tell.  Right now, just in the holding pattern waiting for the daffodils to show their smiling faces.  I have also been adding to my skill set with a few things this winter, one of them being crochet.  I told you I crocheted a bunch of stuff for my new grand-nephew, but I have had a few other projects in the works as well.  I’m almost done crocheting a rug for my bathroom.  I couldn’t find exactly what I have been looking for, and when that happens, I usually try to figure out a way to create it.  Luckily, I possess a few skills in that area.  When that’s done, I’ll get you photos of that as well.  And soon, we’ll be outside a in and I can’t wait for those days!  Until then, be well, be kind to each other and blessings to you all.


Spring?, Snow and Syrup

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This has been a very busy time on the homestead.  As you can see from the picture above and the ones to follow, we’ve been buried in snow.  Just buried.  We got 5 1/2 FEET of snow in just over a week’s time.  The resident snowblower died three or four storms ago, so we have been up to our eyeballs shoveling out snowstorm after snowstorm.  Our snowblower was one my husband bought off craigslist a few years ago.  It was a bit of a dinosaur when we got it, but it was in our budget and served our purpose for a few years, so we were thankful to have it.  But a few storms ago, he went to move it one way or another and the handles on it gave out.  Rusted right through after decades of serving its purpose for one owner or another.  We ended up giving it to our son’s friend who loves to work on small engines.  Perhaps it will meet its next life as a go-cart of something as the engine was still fine on it, it just rusted away around it.

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The last storm was predicted to have about 10-14″ of snow, but in reality it gifted us 27″!  We got the highest snowfall in the state the last two storms in our little town. We are the highest elevation around the area and sit upon a hill.  As you can see from the above photo, there was just an incredible amount of snow to deal with.  We were all crying “Uncle” by the end of this one.  Partially because we were snow free for about 3 weeks prior to these storms dumping the 5 1/2 feet on us.  In fact, February was warmer than March has been.  It gets depressing this late in the season to have large snowfalls dumped on us, especially when they aren’t accompanied by the customary warmer temps that join it in melting it quickly.  We’ve been in the deep freeze for weeks now, so all the snow is not leaving any time soon.  18-3-18 015

I snuck some candids of my guys shoveling our driveway and as you can see by my youngest’s expression, he was D-O-N-E with shoveling.  He is a bit of a whiner normally, and his big brother is more of a “let’s just dig in and get it over with” type, like his mama.  I’m not one to put off the shoveling, let’s just get after it.  I shoveled so much snow during the last storm that my back took days to recover.  Not good for me as I have some physical limitations now, but it had to be done.  My guys did contribute to many pounds of snow being moved, so no complaints from this mom.  They will work hard when they have to.  We were so incredibly blessed to have a couple of angels come and at least plow the HUGE bank left by the plows at the end of the driveway for us a couple of times during the days of snow we received.  Sometimes, when you coach a person’s kid, or are their scout leader, they will show their appreciation for the hours and hours you spend mentoring their child by doing a completely unsolicited act of kindness.  This was the case here, one of the dads of my husband’s basketball team came twice and moved the huge bank for us.  And then one other time, our contractor did the same.  Unpaid, but profusely thanked, they just waved and drove off.  Gotta love small towns.


This is our farm dog, Brady, or as we call him Schmoopy.  This dog could not love snow any more than he does.  He loves to catch snowballs, run, dig and just generally enjoy the mess we hate moving.  Brady helps to give us some perspective to the snow, which we do try to take a moment and enjoy the beauty of as well.  He’s a riot when he gets out in it.  For almost 4 years I was not able to take him off the leash at all because he would take off on me and not come back.  When we moved here, I worked with him to try to keep him in his yard and we were able to let him off the leash for a while.  Little by little, he’s been pushing the boundary line until during the last storm, he decided to ignore the boundary line and take off into the woods chasing the scent of something. I was up to my hips in the snow trekking the woods tracking him and calling him desperately to stop and come back.  He got quite a distance before he finally came back to me. His nose takes over his ears and he just doesn’t listen.  Hound dogs, what can you do?  So, sadly, he’s back on the leash until we can get a fenced in area for him to be in. We live literally feet from a busy road and I know if he went into the road he would be dead.  He’s a member of our family (I know, true homesteaders aren’t supposed to do this with animals, but he’s my constant companion), and if anything like this happened to him, I would be devastated.  So, the leash it is for now.

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We gathered about 5 gallons of sap during the beginning of the season, which was really cool from 4 taps.  It warmed up a couple of weeks and we weren’t getting anything, then the temps dropped again. and now it’s been dripping fast and furiously.  I counted four seconds between drips!  I have another 5 gallons or so to boil down if the wind ever stops blowing.  I tried yesterday, but the wind was using too much of the propane and couldn’t even get it up to a boil.  So, I’m covering it and will try again.  From five gallons of sap, we ended up with this much syrup…

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Yes, that’s a pint jar of sap.  Five gallons cooked down comes to this.  Hardly seems worth it, doesn’t it?  But…if only you could taste this.  Holy Crow!  I have sampled my share of maple syrup from other sources, always loved it, but never have I tasted anything that is like this.  It is maple, but also has a vanilla undertone to that is just incredible.  We won’t be sharing this with anyone, sorry extended family.  And, we will be tapping more trees next year.  You know when you say that money can’t replace all things in life, so very few things.  This is one of them.  Only the hard work of the sap collection and boil down will yield something like this, it can only be had by having it collected uncommercially.  I have a theory, the extra delicious comes from the stuff that keeps this syrup having just a little cloudiness to it, see the bottom of the jar, it’s not perfect.  Commercially produced syrup has all this filtered out, its perfectly clear.  But the incredible taste is in that imperfection and so we will leave it…and enjoy the heck out of it.

Well, that’s news from the homestead.  I’m hoping to get the snow gone and the garden beds started here before too long.  We should be receiving the potatoes we ordered soon, and I want to have the potato boxes built before they arrive so we can get them planted.  Going to try growing them vertical this year.  I bought all indeterminate kinds and so they should grow up the vine instead of spreading on one level.  I’ll keep you posted on those as we start that experiment.  My seed order arrived from Baker Creek and I can’t wait to get them in the ground.  Ahhh, spring, just can’t wait.  Until then be well, be kind to each other and blessings to you all.