Hope carried in rays of sun…

I’m writing early this week because I am hopeful and motivated.  The sun is shining, after 3+ feet of snowfall in the month of February, we were beginning to wonder if we’d EVER see spring.  I’m not so naive as to think that spring is right around the corner, I haven’t yet packed away the hats and mittens….but I am hopeful that brighter warmer things are coming!

I’ve been up for about 4 hours. In that time, I tended to the dogs and the cat, made a batch of pancakes and a cup of coffee, but the rest of the time I have spent on my garden and preserving plan and homesteading blogs.  Because I am a nerd, I have put that plan into an Excel spreadsheet, don’t judge me too harshly.  It appears that I’m going to need a truckload of tomatoes. No joke.  Spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, tomato paste, tomato soup, and just plain canned tomatoes?  I’m wondering if I should just can all of the tomatoes as they are and construct the other things (minus the salsa) as I need them…..Lest I overwhelm myself and do NOTHING.

So before I get on with my day (I’m going on a paranormal investigation tonight!) I want to record my Homesteading Wishlist of both things to get and things to do.

TO GET

  • Pressure canner
  • Dehydrator
  • New freezer
  • more canning jars and lids

TO DO

  • get our chickens settled on our new land with a better enclosure system underneath the actual chicken house (new land is heavy with fox!)
  • look into rabbits for fiber and design appropriate housing
  • look into ducks for meat and design appropriate housing
  • start pricing purchases of local, organic, no hocus pocus meats
  • research making our own flour for our own baked goods
  • add twenty more hours to each day to do my own baking, canning, freezing and critter tending.
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Garden space secured, and the new preservation plan.

As I sit down today to write my weekly (Ok, my intention is weekly) post, I am thrilled to say that I have secured a garden spot for next year. I have so much on my plate right now, but I do want to spend some time to plan what will be on our plates for the following year.

Last years growing/preservation plan flopped horribly.  Onward and upward in 2014!!  I’ll be back in the weeks to come with some veggie profiles of things I’d like to preserve.

It’ll look something like this:

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Apples

Harvest time: Mid September (In Vermont)

Preservation plan: x quarts of unsweetened applesauce

Basic information about the apples used, and the properties of the apples once they are canned or frozen or whatever.

Hopefully it will help those of you who want to get started but have a little trepidation about that first step. 

While I have preservation on my mind, I want to share this product with you. I first saw it in a seed catalog (1 of 5 that have arrived in the mail since January 1st) It’s a water bath, steam canner combo.  This one is a good example, I’ve seen some that look different, and some with different price tags.  There are two issues here, one is space and the other is my complete and total fear of a pressure canner. We’re talking terrified. Somehow this pot looks less daunting… less scary, and maybe something I can manage.

What do you think? Have you used one? Do  you have a garden and preservation plan that you can share? Please leave your comments below.

The further I go, the behinder I get!

I’m behind! I’m late! I’m out of wack, stumbling in the rear of the crowd!  Seriously.  We embarked on a hurry up and buy before the rates go up real estate adventure this summer that somehow , along with a new job after 8 years of the old one REALLY thew me for a loop from which I have been trying to untangle myself.

Our homestead garden, through beautifully thick with weeds, is producing some lovely corn, green beans, last years tomatoes and two types of “yet to be identified” squash.

The farm garden …. *sigh*  wasn’t so much fun this year, and didn’t have a tremendous yield.  Darnit, they never look as pretty s the gardens in the Johnny’s  catalog, why IS that???  Bless my Mother’s heart because she is a paraeducator who stays home all summer, her job, is the garden.  We’ve harvested red and green kale, beets, carrots, early red potatoes, lettuce, green beans, summer squash,  and zucchini.  It’s nearly time for the regular taters and both red and yellow onions.  We did not yield enough for two household.  I have been too lazy to go pick and can my share because the home improvements to the current homestead are exhausting, especially when coupled with the constant hoop-jumping needed to buy the next piece of real estate.  Thank goodness it’s just land, much easier than buying land AND a house.

Having complained through an entire post said all of that, I have recently become quite fond fond of the following blog, and wanted to share.

The Deliberate Agrarian 

I admire Herrick’s lifestyle, his ideas, his writing style and his commitment to his faith and family.  Thank you Herrick for keeping me motivated to keep moving in the self sufficient direction when the rat race and real estate beats me down!

G’night good people….

Homesteading or Blogging, you choose! or…I choose?

I have not had time for either homesteading or blogging for the past few weeks, we have been knee deep in real-estate business.  We have listed out home for sale which prompted some skeeziks (that’s a made  word) to hijack our listing and use it for a rental scam on Craig’s List.  Next, perhaps related, perhaps unrelated, someone dialed 911 from my landline…into which NO phone is plugged.  Yeah.  Strange.

Then we proceeded to make an offer on a piece of land that we’d previously turned our noses up at….and now we have it under contract and we’re jumping through every hoop that the bank can pull out of their bag of tricks.  It’s nearly perfect for homesteading.  It’s 3.25 acres.  Only 1/2 acre is the building lot, the rest is all woods, so we have firewood, streams, and plenty of room to clear off for critters!  The gardens will have to be raised beds because it’s fairly rocky and clay laden.

In the mean time, the babies have gotten so big!  We don’t seem to have any roosters which is good….but they are rapidly outgrowing their coop, so we need to relocate the older hens to make room for the smaller ones.  I think our 4 Amber Links and our last remaining Rhode Island Red will go live at the farm, as they are still good layers.

Here are the babies.  I especially love the Auracanas, so i took a few extra snaps of them.

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There are rats in the chicken coop…

Two weeks ago we had over a foot of snow.  In northern New England, we are used to this. Snow is beautiful, calming and peaceful. (That is until you venture out onto the roads)  Snow is also useful.  It keeps the kids busy, it covers up the dog poop you never scooped, it covers all of the gray and grunge from salt and sand over previously iced roads, and it highlights the winter movement of critters of all kinds.

It was because of the latter mentioned feature that we realized that we indeed had rats eating our chicken grain.Image

Mr. Gray reported that he had seen a small dark form scurrying a week or so before the big storm, but he dismissed it.  Now there is a box of rat poison positioned carefully at the entrance to their lair.  (Err, at least ONE entrance).  Tonight as I was plating up a beautiful Saturday night supper of pan fried scallops and roasted sweet potatoes, I asked Mr. Gray to dish up two bowls of salad.  He couldn’t help me you see, because he stood, transfixed, at the window, with a look of awe on his face and exclaimed “There is a rat in the chicken coop! No, there are TWO rats in the chicken coop!”  Eeeeeeeeeeek! (I said that, not Mr. Gray)  Of course I had to come and take a look, and indeed, they look just like the above photo.  It was comical to watch as the chickens chased them around and at one point I was tickled and horrified at the same time, to see one of them hop straight up into the air and back down again.

I pray that there are some morsels removed from the coop in the morning.  Puhleez. I seriously honestly truly, detest rats.