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Meanwhile…

As the garden has fast become a jungle I’m left waiting for the tomatoes to ripen. I am pretty patient about the tomatoes because once they start to ripen I become crazy busy. I don’t want any of their goodness to go to waste. Last year during furlough I was able to can every single tomato that come off the vine. It really was quite the feat for me! I was so proud of all that I had accomplished. Meanwhile, I ponder the cost of it all.

person standing on grass field while opening hands
Photo by Kourosh Qaffari on Pexels.com

This year without a furlough in sight I am constantly worried if and when I will have time to do the things required of me. Yet, I enjoy the chaos. The sterilizing jars, making concoctions of spaghetti sauce, salsa, or soups, the filling the jars, the canning process all time consuming, and all rewarding.

News from the garden… a short note

The garlic has been harvested. It was the northern white variety, and it is currently hanging in the shed to cure. In the garlic’s place I have planted spinach (giant nobel), kohlrabi, white onions, green beans (bush variety), and they are all probably going to overwhelm the small area I put them in. It all has a plan, a purpose. I call my method of gardening “The Jungle Method” plant as much as you can in your space, and watch the jungle grow. I accidentally harvested some carrots as I was taking out the garlic. They were small, but good. Dante’s and rainbow carrots all colorful and premature. Oh well, I’ll get more in the fall crop.

As the jungle thickens I am reminded that I need to thin out the tomato plants so the fruits are larger. I cut all the sucker branches, and anything that won’t produce fruit. Years past have shown that this method of madness does in fact make the tomatoes larger. Also reminded that the pine shavings have been a great investment, as they are doing their job and cutting down on the weeds significantly.

Speaking of madness, and garden chaos I have a reading suggestion for you fellow gardeners. The book is one of my favorites for sure, and so easy to relate to especially in my gardening experiences. It’s called “The $64 Tomato” by William Alexander. “How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden.” I believe I first heard about this book listening to some show on NPR. I was hooked, and couldn’t stop reading and laughing.

If interested I found it at the local library, but it is definitely available on Amazon. (I know this because my original copy was borrowed and never returned.)

So meanwhile, the thoughts of the $64 tomato make me wonder. Um, how much have I put into the garden this year? How much return will I get out of it? Will I sell some produce this year? Will I hoard it all for ourselves? I’ve already begun to consider the local Farmer’s Market to unload a surplus of apple butter, canned jalapenos, and some other odds and ends. Considering. Really, really considering.

Oh, the mammoth sunflowers we planted are indeed mammoth! They are well over six feet tall already! The cornish cross chics that I picked up are growing so fast! The two ducklings that hatched are getting big, and they are so cute! Honey is thickening nicely, the four new Pekins I drug home are settled in to their new home, and are getting closer to their butcher date. Everything is falling in line. Just left to wait for the ‘maters.

When life gives you chaos and jalapenos…. remember… live a simple life and make salsa.

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IDEALLY

photo of ride on tractor during sunset
Photo by Tabitha Mort on Pexels.com

Everyone has a grand dream, or idea of what they would like to achieve. Some want their own business, and not be tied to the nine to five of everyday life. I imagine even some people want that fast paced job in the big city, and live surrounded by the chaos and constant noise. As I sit here sipping a lovely large Lavender Vanilla Chai I can tell you that my heart does not belong in the city, suburb, or crowds. My heart always wanders to the wild blue yonder… the country. I cannot not picture a life anywhere else, and though I’ve tried I was not content living in town for even six months!

So, I’ve titled this blog IDEALLY. I’m going to lay out to words what I ideally want from myself in say the next five years. What I want for our family, and what I see the big picture looking like.

Ideally we would sell our half an acre lot and small home, and find say five to seven acres. I’m not limiting us from anything bigger I just know what anything bigger costs these days. I picture a cute little farm house, maybe a two story, surrounded by little red barns and corn cribs. This is the place I dream of… sitting with Rooster on the porch after an evening of choring is done. Surrounded by sounds of chickens, cows, goats, ducks and maybe some sheep. Five to seven acres seems feasible, obtainable, and all the same a dream sometimes.

On this new property I’d like to homestead. What I mean by that is we raise and grow almost everything we need to sustain our family of four, and still have some to sell. I see a little “shed” we use for the “market”. In the market we would sell eggs, and meats; homemade remedies I would make, canned goods, and surplus fruit and veg. From this market IDEALLY we would make enough money to be able to quit the seven to three jobs that we currently have, and live a simple but comfortable life. Ahhhhhhhhhh, the American rural dream.

I’d IDEALLY like to raise cows, chickens, goats, ducks, pheasants, rabbits on this future ideal land, but for now… I’ll work with what we’ve got.

Where we are now I can see getting a good footing on this dream… I can currently sell duck eggs, surplus chicken eggs, and produce at local farmer’s markets. I’m looking into expanding into selling homemade remedies that are either grown by me, or are locally sourced. I can sell canned goods that I’ve made from apple butter to canned jalapenos. I also want to get into some merchandise… coffee mugs, tea towels, and the like.

All of this obtainable. All of this is possible. With just one little hitch. Me. I find it hard enough these days to work the seven to three, do chores, make supper, and have a moment of rest; and that’s on me. I need to push myself harder to accomplish this ideal dream. So, my goal for myself is to work hard, push the limits, and make this dream happen.

I’ve talked myself out of raising pheasants like three times this year already. I think it’s time to talk myself back into it. Not only are pheasants another source of food for the family, it could also be a source of income.

In the early fall I plan to plant some apple trees, blueberries, and goji berries along the property line. These plants will support not only our meals, but can be turned into sell able products as well. From apple sauce to blueberry jelly, and goji berry supplements.

I have my name on a list to obtain twelve cornish cross chickens this week (freezer bound), and hope to have a complete rotation plan for growing and butchering. These chickens will fill the freezer quickly, and if there’s surplus I could sell them as well.

I just started considering raising rabbits. This was only once I saw the price of rabbit meat at the local butcher. I saw dollar signs. Keep in mind that I am not a greedy person I am just driven to see the ideal dream take shape.

There are so many possibilities, and I plan to hone my skills now where we are, and in five years by the time we can get to our ideal dream land I’ll have it figured out. We will be a well oiled machine by then. So for now it’s more of the homesteading practices, coupons, and money saving ideas.

Have any of you had the same dream that I do? Or am I the only forty year old with this description of IDEALLY? I’d love to hear from people that are like minded. Please feel free to comment or message me! I’d love to get ideas on how to get this blog off the ground as well as our youtube channel.

Remember no matter what your ideal dream is… live a simple life!

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A lazy day

After work we went to the big city to stock up on supplies… coffee, soaps for laundry and dishwasher, allergy medicine and other odds and ends.

After unloading said necessities rooster watered the garden and is now spraying the damn dandelions in the yard…

We’ve been sitting in the sun watching the ducks and chickens while sipping adult beverages. The ducks enjoyed a good bath from the hose, and Charlie was stealing the garden water….

Charlie and Rooster

Meanwhile I am thumbing through the latest from GRIT magazine. Considering making apple mead… a back up plan if the damn louffas don’t sprout I guess.

It’s a beautiful night. Warm. Dry, and just humid enough to make your hair frizz. Hashtag perfect night.

The chickens are enjoying the “duck hut” more than the ducks.. They’ve been laying eggs inside the hut and hanging out in the shade.

The birds are chirping, the breeze has slowed, and this lawn chair is pretty comfy.

Today at work I realized that I need to find some mint plants. Why? I’ve been making more Greek food and it seems mint is a staple item in every dish. Why didn’t I think of this before? Not that it’s catastrophic I never saw mint available at the local garden store, but my eyes are wide open and searching now!

The dogs are basking in the sunshine as well, and I’m worried this weekend my alabaster skin will still become lobster red even with sunscreen… it’s supposed to be 86 all weekend which makes a mental note for me to make sure to apply sunscreen to youngest every hour. He’s the ginger of the family I am sure you understand.

Grocery shopping for the week is done and this weekend I just need to make buns, Mayo, and egg bites for the week.

Mental note I need to call the local mom and pop grocery store about getting veggies from them for the pig. I hope to almost completely feed the piggy off of veggies and reduce feed costs considerably.

Today we were property shopping at work…. the shoe doesn’t fit yet if you know what I mean. I think it’s just day dreaming when work is slow. Acreage *sigh* what everyone should dream of rather than the 3000 square foot home on .26 acres. We want/need more land. Can you imaging how much food we could raise then??!!

I think we are a different breed of people…

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A day off of work, and we still work…

Today after lack of sleep we decided to stay home. Needless to say it was a productive day. The weather held out and we only had a few sprinkles to deal with.

Today we utilized our stock pile of scrap metal roofing, and pallets to make a “duck hut”. The Peking’s don’t go into the coop for whatever reason, and I felt they needed some protection from the weather, and a place to hopefully nest and/or just lay eggs.

First we stripped the pallets until we had enough material left to join the together. Like everything we do it’s trial and error, but it all works out in the end. After cutting the pallets down to size we started making our “teepee” or “A” frame.

We joined the two pallets together with three inch screws along the top, and began working on making the frame stable. We used the boards we removed from the pallet to brace the back of the “A”.

Once the structure was more secure we began adding the metal roofing panels, and created a ridge cap with an extra small piece of metal roof.

The framing…

In no time at all the chickens were checking out our work, and the Peking’s even poked their heads in a time or two!

Don’t think that’s all we did today we also got the hog pen finished up! We also got creative making a trough!

We had a half of a plastic barrel that I got from my dad, and the top off of an old microwave cart. Luckily the old cart was made of wood and we’ve been able to use it on a lot of projects.

The “Duck Hut”

Easily enough we cut the tabletop length wise and attached it to the barrel with screws. Now we have a trough that will hopefully be a little harder to flip over.

After all the projects Rooster went to oldest’s soccer practice, I picked up the youngest after running a few errands, came home to whip up a salad for supper while youngest did his homework, and I am now enjoying a Lavender Vanilla Chai while youngest has his first guitar lesson!!

After this it’s home for family supper of spaghetti, salad and garlic bread. After we unload all the feed out of the truck LOL.

I almost forgot we also made a little improvement to the run! We added landscape timber around the outside. The chickens have a habit of making dust bath pools along the fence eroding away the bottom of the fence. Hence leaving me to worry about them getting out, or something easily getting in.

Sometimes the best pay check is the reward of a good days work. Dirt under your nails, blisters on your palms, or the typical scrapes, cuts and bruises.