Beautiful February?!

Last weekend left me tired, but so looking forward to Spring! Here in western Maryland, we should be having temperatures around freezing. Today, it was around 80 degrees. It was very interesting to see the bees flying around like crazy!

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Busy bees! 

I was thrilled that I could even get the blankets to dry outside today!

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We aren’t sports fans, it’s just a comfy blanket! 

And the chickens have been picking up the pace with their egg laying! Our white egg layer has finally started laying again!

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Our first white egg since fall! 

I had to go searching out in the flower bed and I found the crocuses coming up! I love those early risers!

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Crocuses coming up! 

Yesterday we spun honey ( I’ll share all about that later in the week!) and I scrubbed up more birdhouse gourds. They get a mold film over them, so they have to be scrubbed up before decorating them! These are the smaller ones that I’ll be selling to crafty/painting people!

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More birdhouse gourds! 

The chickens are acting more like themselves! They are spending more time outside, instead of freezing their fluffy butts off!

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Fluff butt! 

I hope that you all are getting this beautiful weather where you are living too! Have a great week and keep blooming!

Who we are!

Hello all! We have had a nice influx of new people to our little blog since Mavis over at onehundreddollarsamonth.com featured my husband’s Blacksmithing hobby!

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I really appreciated my Mr. being chosen! 

1. So obviously, my husband is a backyard blacksmith! He’s pretty awesome and makes all kinds of metal creations, including my favorite dinner bells!

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He even did the brickwork on his forge 
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Dinnerbell in the works! 

2. We try to grow as much food as we can and preserve our over abundance!

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Our main garden. 
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We ❤️ Tomatoes

3. I am a beekeeper! I love having them to help pollinate everything, and also the delicious honey and wax for crafting!

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Baby bees!

4. I also love growing lots of flowers to keep the pollinators happy, and have plans to grow a much larger patch of pollinator friendly plants this summer!

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Our state flower: black eyed susans!!
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My favorite flower: echinacea! 

5. We keep chickens to give us lots of delicious eggs and they help us create less trash by eating leftovers!

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Our ladies enjoying some leftovers! 

6. I’m the eco warrior at the school I teach at. I teach my sweet 3rd graders about caring for our precious Earth and do the recycling for our building! Someone has to do it!

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Recycling for the staff! 

7. I love crocheting and craft everything from toboggans to washcloths to sell at local craft shows!

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Crocheting! 

8/9. I love both sewing and upcycling whatever is headed towards the trash into something useful!

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Upcycling and sewing! 

10. We try not to produce an over abundance of garbage and strive to be zerowaste!

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Less waste! 

11. We have been tracking our solar panels and how they are working out for the past year!

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We are on year 2 of having our solar panels! 

12. We try to eat at home and cook all of our own food! It helps to save money and I know what’s in my food!

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My cinnamon rolls
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My pizza! (Don’t worry, I make lots of healthier food too!) 

So these are a few things that we have going on here on our less than an acre in a small town! We really appreciate anyone taking time to read about our tiny homestead happenings!

Growing Popcorn

Last summer one new thing that we tried our green thumb on was popcorn. We grew 2 varieties: strawberry popcorn, on the right and a mixed color variety on the left.

We noticed right away the height difference between the 2 varieties! The strawberry popcorn was much shorter than the colored variety. It also seemed like the ears of corn developed faster on the strawberry variety.

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Popcorn stalks

I left the corn on the plant to dry as long as they could and when the cold weather started setting in, we pulled the cobs off and brought them in to dry out the rest of the way.

Just now, in January, we decided to shell the corn. At first, we tried to just use our fingers, and that was painful. And then we read where if you rub 2 cobs together, they will come off easier. That worked better with less cut up fingers!

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Our popcorn!

We decided to save some of both seeds.

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Some of the seeds for next year

We used a funnel to pour all of the popcorn into a mason jar to keep everything sealed up!

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Yep, that’s homework still on the table!

And here was how much we got for a very small patch!

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Our whole harvest! 

And for the leftover cobs and husks, the chickens enjoyed looking for any kernels that we missed and kicked everything around!

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A nice winter treat! 

Now on the the important part, did it pop?! It sure did! They might not be as large as the store bought, but the taste is much better!

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Popcorn! 

Next year I’m going to focus on the strawberry variety because they seemed to pop much better, and took up less room.

So, I consider this new crop to us a success! Does popcorn make your list for the 2018 garden? I’m going to stay under these covers and dream of the beautiful weather that will eventually come! 🌱💚

A sad day at the homestead

Today was one of those days that made me feel like maybe I should have just stayed in bed. I felt some sort of illness coming on last night and woke up with a fever, rash and cough. Weird, right? But, the day continued on.

Then, while feeding the chickens, we found out that a raccoon managed to devour 1 chicken and rip the head off of another chicken. There will be no more blue eggs here at the homestead now.

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So many feathers. 😢

Since I don’t like to seem like I’m being negative too much, I’ll end on some positives:

1. At least it was only 2, and not more.

2. The 2 that we killed were my oldest chickens.

3. The following dish cloths that I crocheted up cracked me up because they reminded me of Neapolitan ice cream:

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Strawberry, vanilla and chocolate! 

4. I’m so close to finishing all my personalized towel orders!!

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10 finished last week! 

5. I have been receiving great feedback about my beeswax lip balm! (And was able to get some more made!)

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Lemongrass, orange and peppermint! 

I will miss both of those sweet chickens. The brown girl was the last one from our original 4 “fluff butts” and the Easter Egger was a great find from one of my roller derby friends! Here’s to tomorrow being a better day!

November goals update 2017

November brought the cold temperatures that reminded me that Winter is will be here to stay. It allowed me enough nice days to clean up the garden and chicken coop. So, without waiting, here are how the goals are going:

1. Zero waste our home! We are continuing to enjoy our deliciousness that we canned from the summer and fall including: peaches, apple sauce, tomato sauce and even ketchup! I’m also loving the upcycling that we have been doing here! That’s going to be a focus next year!

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Upcycled license plate money box!

2. Declutter 20 items per month. We need to continue cleaning out the boy’s closet since he’s growing like a weed! I’m sure I will find someone here that could use them!

3. Create only 12 bags of garbage per year. Americans are super wasteful. We are going to try to only produce one 13 gallon kitchen trash bag per month. We are still on bag 6, but it’s basically full.

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Still only 5 bags thrown out! 

4. Merge crafting and homestead business. This month we have been crafting away! We will be having a sale through our Facebook page and I have been working hard on hooded towel orders!

5. Create a summer kitchen. We will be turning a spot in the garage into a nice canning area. This just won’t be happening this year. #comeonmrllewellyn!!

6. Expand the garden. We are definitely working on this! 

We will be putting up a nice fenced in area next year and driving posts for a better appearance. So, I guess that I need to be selling lots of goodies to help offset the costs!

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Putting the garden to sleep

7. Grow some different plants. Luffa gourds were so fun to grow last year, and we are growing more this year! The okra grew great this year. We harvested tons of cucamelons, popcorn, okra and luffa gourds!

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The last of the mushroom harvest 

8. Make a chicken viewing area. Yeah, um, I don’t think we are going to do this! We have some other ideas for 2018!

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Enjoying a warm breakfast

9.Green up my school. Schools create an absurd amount of trash! My class recycled around 150 pounds of plastic film last year. The plastic bag recycling program has started, and we have recycled 88 pounds so far! I also convinced my principal to buy a zero waste glue stick recycling box and we are also recycling our cereal bowls and markers!

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Marker recycling! 

10. Track our solar panels. This month we reached  730 kWh! And our electric bill was less than $6!

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Still loving our solar energy!

11. Continue beekeeping. We are still providing lodging for our flying insect friends! I made them some sugar boards to help keep them fed this winter!

12. Travel more with the family! We managed to visit so many places last year and only a few this year. Next year we will be traveling out west!

How are your goals going?! Have you starting thinking about goals for next year? We are hoping to accomplish just as many goals in 2018! Keep on blooming where you are planted!!💚🌱

Creating the garden cart!!

This summer we set up little produce stands on the front sidewalk.

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Our tiny produce stand

As part of our 2018 goals, we are planning on possibly selling more produce next year! It all started out with the Mr. carving the handles:

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Hand carved! 

Followed by framing it up, repurposing old wheels and cutting and putting the boards on top:

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Already looking adorable! 

Then, he put the spindles on and the frame for the roof:

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Almost finished! 

Then today, he finished it up by putting galvanized sheets on the roof:

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I’m in love with it! 

So, even if I don’t sell a bit of extra produce, we still have this amazing, unique, perfectly husband-crafted cart!

As for the rest of the homestead, it has been soooo cold here! This morning I made our ladies a bowl of warm oatmeal to start the day!

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They loved it! 

And, another sneak peek of the 2018 goals, is redoing a camper trailer! I’m trying to pick out some cute fabric to reupholster the cushions in:

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I’m leaning towards the camping one!

And the save the pumpkins from the landfill project is going well! We are up to 78!!

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3 more pumpkins!!

And now to continue crocheting, relaxing with puppies and attempting to enjoy this cooler season! Keep blooming!

Garden cleanup!

It’s not a fun thing to do, but more of a must do kind of job. Why?! Well, you don’t want to give a home to pests to help boost their population in the spring. Also, you don’t want diseased plants staying until you plant again next year! Since it didn’t rain on Sunday, this is what I did!

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The Before
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The After (still more cleanup to go!) 

The chicken coop got a nice clean out:

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Never a clean job! 

I also cleaned up the fence line garden that gave us lots of produce!

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Before
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The after 😢

We are still getting some eggs and a few mushrooms. Winecap mushrooms are so good, that I’m attempting to spread the spores into another raised bed!

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Winecaps! 

We had a lot more pumpkins dropped off today!! The uncarved ones are saved for the chickens and the carved ones are making a big compost pile! Basically we are trying to keep this long season crop from just sitting in a landfill!

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65 pumpkins so far! 

And lastly, check out my bragging:

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The cable stitch on a messy bun toboggan! 

We are going to continue to clean up all the produce gardens and try to reach 100 pumpkins!!