A plan that actually worked!

Last year right around this time of the year, I had an interesting idea. It was to expand the garden to go out around the bee area and attach in to the chicken run. I even posted this:

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My 2017 dream! 

Last Fall my mister was awesome and tilled that area and I planted some different cover crops. The old fence was taken down and I started planning for spring! When it finally arrived, we put up t posts, fencing, lots of mulch and weed paper around the perimeter. It was at that point that I thought that I may have overcommitted!

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The garden door and no fence

Once all of the fencing was installed, we had to fill it all again, made a mulched walkway, trellis around the beeyard side and planted the seedlings!

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A very young garden! 

And even after a long trip out west, and the wettest summer in forever, the garden seemed to be thriving!

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An early season garden 

The trellises held the pole beans well, and the chickens loved that I would toss Japanese beetles to them!

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Trellises full of beans and gourds 

And then today, exactly what I had dreamed and hoped would happen last year worked out! While cleaning out the garden, I just opened up the door to the chicken area and they helped clean the garden with me! No more dragging everything from the chicken run for them to check it out. It was well worth of the work!

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Chickens checking around the gourds 
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They also cleaned up under the trellis! 

They spent so much of the day in there scratching around, eating pesky bugs and enjoying digging under the corn stalks! It was all worth the hard work!

I always wonder if I’m crazy for not wanting to move, but then moments like today happens! Keep blooming friends (even when you are pretty sure that you are in over your head!)

No Spend August Update

How in the world have I not gotten around to updating about our no spend year? Well, the main reason is that it has just started to become a norm for us. And, I can officially say that we made it through the summer without dipping into the savings. That’s a first! Getting a paycheck was sooo nice!

Since the school year started, we really didn’t buy much for the beginning of the year. The only things that the boy needed for school were a new pair of shoes (which we do splurge for since that is all that he actually cares about), and a binder. As for me, I only bought a new pair of sandals, because mine completely broke! However, I had a gift card and got a great deal!

In August, we went on an end of the summer getaway. We took the camper and the pups and headed to the Chesapeake Bay to enjoy a beautiful weekend. We used our KOA rewards card (from our camping trip this summer) and saved some money and packed all of our own meals. So, lots of savings!

Camping at the bay

We have also been harvesting lots more from the garden. The boy and I have had way too much salsa in the past month, but we still had more last night! I know that technically it doesn’t save us money, if I calculate in how much time and effort I put into it. However, since I love gardening, that also gives me a free workout and yummy food!

Haul from the garden

Another way that we save money is finding things around here that we enjoy doing that don’t involve leaving the house. Have I mentioned before that I don’t really like going out in public? It’s not the people, it’s just that I have talked all day to little people and I just want to stay home and relax. So, one thing that I have loved doing here lately is raising the monarch caterpillars that are on my milkweed. I collect the little caterpillars and feed them and keep them safe until they come out of their chrysalis and then release them to nature. It is fun for me! Heck, I even have the rest of my family looking for the tiny creatures.

Handsome male monarch

The composting service that we provide for 12 families has been a nice addition to the food for the chickens. They love the extra fruits and veggies and also kicking around in the compost looking for bugs. Double win!

Squash for the chickens

The garden produced so many tomatoes this year! I have sold some, given some away, chopped them for salsa and this weekend I have canned a lot of them for ketchup and pizza sauce. They will give us some delicious fresh food in the winter!

Ketchup from our tomatoes!

I was also able to put up some zucchini for future zucchini cake this winter and took a few pie pumpkins that we grew and turned them into a yummy pumpkin pie. The boys said that it was delicious.

Homemade pumpkin pie!

It’s so weird how you just get used to not really spending money. I won’t lie and say that we haven’t had any take out this year, but it has been a very rare occurrence! My husband and I have been packing a lot more for lunch and eating up the leftovers more often. So, that cuts back on waste more too. This year of saving has made us realize how wasteful that we can be.

I really am hoping that we can continue to find more ways to save, and would love to hear what else that you all do! Any tips that we can try in September?

Keep blooming friends!

Looking for the sunshine

Over the past few evenings, we have been getting so frustrated with trying to trap a raccoon that has managed to eat 2 chickens and scare a third one. The chickens are on extreme lockdown right now.

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Little trash panda 😢

But, this is just part of taking care and raising anything. It’s frustrating, breaks your brain while looking for a solution and makes you feel like a failure. Instead of focusing on the negative at hand, I decided to look for some things that are going right at the moment. So, here are a few rainbows among the storm:

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Found a beautiful monarch caterpillar on the milkweed!
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The zinnias are blooming and are gorgeous! 
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This is a beautiful nicotiana flower! It has such a beautiful scent! 
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A pale yellow sunflower with native bee
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A honeybee on the cucamelon blooms

Then, I spent the evening preserving some of the leftover produce from the sale on the weekend.

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Cucamelon and cucumber fridge pickles 
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Tiny amount of blackberry jam. (And this reminded me so much of my Granny!) 

And this definitely made me feel better! This is a little before and now picture:

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The top is May and the bottom is now 

Anyone else dealing with garden or animal issues? Try to remember that while some things are bringing you down, there are still lots of successes out there! Keep blooming! 🌱💚

June Goals Update 2018

Happy July all!! June was a fun month of finishing up school and traveling! Plus, the garden is taking off!

And here’s how the goals are going:

1. Expand the garden– ✅it happened! Everything is growing pretty well and I’m hoping that I get a great harvest!

2. Fix the camper– We fixed up our camper and loved using it on a trip of a lifetime! We are going to update it some more, now that we lived out of it for 2 weeks!

3.Travel out west- We did it and enjoyed every single stop! (And the last blog posted was all about our adventure!)

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat- There’s a grass patch in front of the garage that is begging to be returned to nature. We are finally starting to see what we envisioned! The pollinator hotel is being used, and flowers are blooming!

5. Reduce garbage– Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. Bag number 2 was just taken out!

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- This month I didn’t do a big do-good gesture, but the boy’s composting service has kept around 220 pounds of food waste out of the landfill!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair- this month we were able to pick up some pallets and the Mr. turned them into compost bins that the chickens gladly turn for us! Post will come later on how to make them!

8. Paw Paw trees– These native trees have grown near here for such a long time! The little sprouts are starting to look like trees!

9. Build a pizza oven– I do believe that we are putting this off for another year.

10. Grow different produce

I am proud to say that the Tennessee dancing gourds are growing, along with the apple melons and all different kinds of tomatoes! I also was able to pick up some ground cherries at a local nursery!

Genovese tomatoes

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- May was a nice solar month, despite lots of rain! 1.47 MWh and just the connection rate for an electric bill! (It’s around $5)

12. Work on garden cart sales– I am hoping to be able to put something out for sale this weekend! We will have garlic, eggs and some birdhouse gourds! That cart is too pretty to not be used!

Last month things grew so well while we were out of town! I hope that your gardens start to produce some fruit and veggies for you! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

Kid composting service!

My kiddo is growing up fast and I would love to instill some work ethic into him. Don’t get me wrong, he will help out with whatever you ask him to, but I would love for him to understand what it’s like to keep customers happy. So, this summer he is providing a service to our neighbors/friends/family that were willing to participate! (And he actually got 10 people!)

The way that it works is that I am going to pay him, because not many people would actually pay for a service like this in our area. We asked around on Facebook and were able to round up some free buckets and that’s where we got the customers too!

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After we scrubbed them all up! 

Then, I helped him line them all with some newspaper and he wrote out the pickup times and put the list inside,

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The inside of the bucket
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All ready for drop off! 

He has already cleaned out several and has retrieved around 15 pounds of compostable materials that would have otherwise made its way to the landfill!

And now for his process:

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Step 1: weigh it (so we can let his customers know how awesome they are doing!) 
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Step 2: dump out the contents 
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Step 3: scrub out that bucket with some eco friendly soap! 

And an awesome coworker/friend thought that the boy’s service was such a good idea, that she donated some cleaner! This stuff smells amazing and leaves the buckets smelling great!

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Thank you Mallory! 

And on to Step 4:

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Reline the bucket with newspapers also given to us!

When he gets home we throw most of it into the compost bin, and give anything that would be enjoyed by the chickens to them! They sure are loving this!

I’m hoping to be able to keep this going all summer and I’m very thankful to the sweet people that are willing to try composting! I also love the fact that my boy knows just as much about composting  as I do! He can answer pretty much any question that a customer throws his way! Keep blooming, even in the middle of a neighborhood! 🌱💚

No Spend Year (April Update!)

So far we have still been doing relatively well with this whole trying not to spend money on frivolous things journey! I was so proud of the Mr. for finding a used pair of boots that he really wanted for when we go hiking. He found them on eBay and I’m pretty sure they are never worn! And he raves over how comfortable they are!

We were also able to go to the museum in Antietam, MD and camping without extra spending. We took our own food and drinks, played the free putt putt there and avoided the gift shop where everything was so expensive!

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We were working on his skipping rocks technique! 

Also, since the boy is starting his own little composting business, we told people nearby that if they were getting ready to get rid of something that the chickens would enjoy, that we would gladly take it! The chickens have been enjoying cabbage, lettuce, spinach, avocados and even some bread!

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They have been eating a lot less feed! 

And even though new buckets would look great for the boy’s composting  service, we decided to peel off labels and scrub down ones that were given to us instead! They will go out to his customers today. We did purchase easy to remove lids for them.

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He put in lots of elbow grease for them to look that great! 

And we are still growing pretty much everything from seed to save money. I love weird varieties of plants, so growing from seed is about my only option. I am going to get the squashes, watermelons and gourds growing in the greenhouse this week! They can go in the ground at the end of the month!

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All of the flowers have popped up too now! 

We also got back a nice little tax credit for the solar panels! So instead of buying something new, we dropped that money on the loan that we have for them. They won’t take too long to pay off either!

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And now for the things that I have bought: I purchased a nuc of honeybees, because most of my bees died this winter.

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They are doing well! 

We also have to buy fencing for the garden, but that needed done because of the old fencing breaking.

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It’s still a work in progress! 

Even though we are still spending money on our homestead needs, we are making huge financial strides! My braces (Invisalign) will be paid off next month. We still have no vehicle payments. We have no credit card bills (thank goodness!) and we are getting close to another $10,000 leap on our mortgage! We should have this place paid off before I’m 40!

Are you making your debt snowball roll?! We are trying!

Antietam trip! And new bees!

Over the weekend we got the chance to try out the camper before we take it out for a long trip!

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At the campsite! 

We went to the Antietam battlefield and museum first to give the boy a nice history lesson from the civil war. The murals on the wall even helped me better understand how the war progressed and we enjoyed looking at the relics.

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A wooden canteen 

We also walked many paths and wore those pups out!

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Walking the trails 

And it was hard not to stop and look at the size of monuments and think of the devastation that this area saw.

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Antietam,Md

We we to a nearby KOA and enjoyed their  amenities! We played mini golf, played by the stream, checked out the dog park and just enjoyed nature! I also felt at home when we saw that the campsite had a mini farm with sheep, goats and chickens!

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Just checking out the creek!

On the way home, we arranged our schedule so that we could pick up a new hive of bees to install when we got home. Nothing like a drive home with a hive of bees right below you!

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I could hear them buzzing!

So, after getting home, I rushed to install the new bees into their house and it was easy to spot the Queen! Can you find her?

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She’s right in the middle! 

So, we started making a long list of what all we don’t want to forget on our trip out west! It was a great learning experience! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚