What’s growing! 4/14!

It has been so warm outside the past couple days! A gentle reminder that I will soon be up to my elbows in dirt, woodchips, compost and hard work.

Outside we have been planting what can go outside so far, and putting closures around it to keep the excessive amount of deer and rabbits from hurting the plants!

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Tiny blueberry bushes
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Nectarine tree

We also had to relocate the raspberry canes to keep them away from our chickens that could reach them! (And ate every single one!)

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Red raspberries! 
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Rhubarb is growing beautifully! 

And under the grow lights everything seems pretty happy too!

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Common milkweed
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Pepper plants 
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Cucumelon with its first real leaf! 
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All of the tomato seedlings are getting big! 
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Luffa gourd seedling 

And I am also grateful for the kind souls that surround me! From neighbors that always stop and chat it up about life that end the conversation by saying “have a blessed evening.” To others that always go by with a smile and a wave! And then people who share some seeds with me because they know how much I love to garden!

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I’m making room on the trellis for these! 

I’m 100% sure that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be and meeting people who teach me about being a better person. I hope that your seedlings are growing nicely and you’re getting excited about this gardening season!

Worker bee me last week!

Last week the Mr. was on late shift, so I decided to get some work accomplished around here! Everything from crafting to gardening!

Monday evening: hemmed pants and sewed patches on

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A lot of sewing! (And I really dislike hemming pants!) 

Tuesday: finished crocheting some baby chicks for Easter!

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Peeps! 

Wednesday: starting the cutting for the camper cushions and redecorated the chalkboard!

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So ready for spring! 

Thursday: the boy stamped our seed packets for the local seed swap and I started working on recovering all of those camper cushions!

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The seeds that we took to the swap! 

Friday: I finished recovering all of the cushions and they look beautiful!

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Easier than I thought it would be! 

Saturday: I took down all of the garden fencing and moved the compost bin to the chicken area!

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Bye bye fence! Hello garden expansion! 

Sunday: I started working on filling the pollinator hotel with knot weed and drilled fallen tree limbs.

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Pollinator hotel

I also started lots of herbs and flowers in the tiny greenhouse

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I hope that they grow well! 

I have some seeds in milk jugs to get started!

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Winter sowing some marigolds

And I hung out with my momma and went to the local seed swap! I donated 15 packs of seeds and brought home a few!

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Brought home zinnia, nasturtiums, bee food blend, birds egg beans and golden zucchini

And, we played uno almost every night!

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I ❤️ That the teen wants to play a game with me! 

And this week, I’m not feeling that ambitious! But, some exciting things are going to be happening in the weeks to come here at the homestead! We are definitely blooming where we are planted! 🌱💚

February update 2018

Hello March!! It definitely came in with crazy winds and some snow today! I am proud to say that we are getting a lot accomplished here!

1. Expand the garden- With the warm days last week, I was able to start taking down the fencing around the garden. It was a lot of work and I still have a lot more! But, that new area is going to looks great! (I hope!)

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A reminder of the plans! 

2. Fix the camper- The Mr.’s installed converter is working great! He also installed a new smoke detector and replaced the bulbs with leds. I made new curtains and he made a stove cover from some upcycked wood.

3.Travel out west- That camper is going to be making some trips this year! We have officially started reserving spots! We will be stopping at many Koa sites as well as mostly national parks!!

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat- There’s a grass patch in front of the garage that is begging to be returned to nature. I am stratifying 3 varieties of milkweed and gathered a bunch of my echinacea seeds. It’s going to be a mix of native plants and some non-native!

5. Reduce garbage- Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags. Just on March first, we had to take out our first bag! So, we are off to a good start!

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Yes, that’s some snow! 

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- Last month I learned how to crochet knitted knockers. They are a pillowy prosthesis for women who have had a mastectomy. And I attended a master gardener meeting and will be finishing my 40 hours to become official!

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Crocheted knitted knockers! 

And I signed up at the “be the match” program that matches you to patients that need marrow.

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7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair- For Valentine’s Day, my Mr. upcycled some old  decking boards into a pollinator house! Now to add some bamboo and drilled wood!

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Pollinator house! 🐝🐞🐛🦋

8. Paw Paw trees- These native trees have grown near here for such a long time! I can’t wait to give it a try to grow them this year, and eventually (maybe) eat one!! The seeds were pulled from being cold stratified and now are in soil!

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Planted paw paw seeds! 

9. Build a pizza oven- this is the Mr.’s idea! He built his own Blacksmithing forge, so I’m sure he can do it! I’m definitely looking forward to having a delicious, out of the oven pizza! No real updates yet!

10. Grow different produce- I was able to pick up a majority of the seeds that I wanted online last month. And, I participated in a seed swap and got some Interesting varieties!!

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Dragon tongue beans, mayflower beans, flowering tobacco and so many more! 

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- It was a mixture of cold and warmer weather last month, but our electric bill was a whopping $0!

12. Work on garden cart sales- We will be doing some upcoming craft shows, but we won’t have any produce for sale for quite a while! However, we were able to harvest some honey (due to losing a hive) and will be using the money from the honey for some new bees!

Did you set any goals?! We are hoping to have checks next to them all at the end of the year! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

Spinning honey and melting beeswax

Last weekend we spent a lot of time harvesting the honey from the hives that didn’t make it through the winter. It’s sad, but needed done.

It’s still so amazing how perfect those frames of honey are!

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Full deep frame of honey

We then use a knife to uncap all of the honey and put the frames in the spinner. We spin the fronts of the frames until cleaned out and then the backs. We have the boy spin the frames because that kid has way too much energy!

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Spinning away! 

Then, we pour the honey from the spinner into the double screened filter. This honey was super thick, so it took a long time to filter! The light spring honey flies through the filters!

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Filtering out the honey

After we allow it to settle in the bucket for a bit, we pour all of the honey into clean and sterilized jars.

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A nice honey harvest! 

And now for the beeswax cappings that we cut off of the frames. There’s still honey on them, so I clean them out really well by putting them in a thin muslin and run water through it until it runs dead. I leave them on the towel and let them dry out.

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The dry beeswax cappings

Then, I make a double boiler with water in the pot underneath and the cappings in the top pot. It takes a little while for it all to melt and it doesn’t exactly look like beeswax,

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Before melting (I think it looks like burger!) 
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During melting

This batch was pretty messy, but it doesn’t matter too much. I filter it through a nylon filter and pour it into a mold. (I just used an old creamer container!)

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We harvested about 8.5 ounces

If you need it filtered again, have at it! But, the Mr. is probably going to use this batch for Blacksmithing!

We definitely were weekend homesteading today! Keep blooming away friends!

Long weekend happenings!

Monday was called off due to the snow. With no school, I planned on getting to work around the house! On Saturday my momma let me know that the Mr. was on the front page of the newspaper. The roads were a mess Friday.

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That’s him on the right. (Everyone was ok, by the way) 

On the weekend I took our recycling plus all of the recycling from school to the recycling center. It closes around 3 everyday! I can only get there on the weekend.

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So many cereal bowls! 😢

While shopping for groceries, I found some butterfly weed! It’s a type of milkweed, so I’ll be starting that along with 2 other varieties soon!

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Milkweed! 

I have some nice blisters on my fingers from where I’ve been scrubbing all of the dried out birdhouse gourds! Then, we dye them and clear coat them! They are going to (hopefully) be sold at the next craft show!

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Birdhouse gourds! 
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I think this one is beautiful! 

On Monday, I was able to hang out with my mom for a while. There is not a day that goes by that I take for granted having her. She is literally the nicest person that I’ve ever been around. ❤️ Her so much!

Then, I sewed new curtains for the camper! (A whole update will be coming soon for the camper reno!)

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So much better than before! 

And I was also able to do my swab for the #bethematch bone marrow donation. I might not ever be matched, but I’m here for whoever does match!

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It’s all sent in! 

And, of course, we spent some time relaxing!

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Sherman with his boy! 

Before we know it the weekend will be here again and we will be working on getting more accomplished! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

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! 🌱💚