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! 🌱💚

2018 New Year Goals!

All year long I keep a list of things that I would like to accomplish in the future. Last year we accomplished a good bit! But, as long as I’m able, I will continue to work on accomplishing more. Here’s how last year went:

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This year we have set 12 more goals:

1. Expand the garden– We need more fencing put around the larger garden. I’m looking forward to having a more permanent fence and growing more food!

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2. Fix the camper- My sister in law saw this beauty along the road this summer. The next day, it was in our driveway. It needs some work, but I know that we can do it!

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3. Travel out west– That camper is going to be making some trips this year! Our boy is 13 and I want him to see more than I have.

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat– There’s a grass patch in front of the garage that is begging to be returned to nature. So, that’s what the plan is! Native flowers, insect homes, water source … it’s going to be great!

5. Reduce garbage– Last year we made 7 bags of garbage. This year, the plan is less than 6!

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6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month– I teach 8/9 year olds. Of course it’s my job to teach curriculum, but I love to set an example of spreading good things! There are tons of good people in this world, I plan on being one!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend or reuse– It’s a No Spend year for us, so we will need to be creative! People are always offering me things that they don’t know what to do with, so maybe I’ll be able to save more things from the landfill.

8. Paw Paw trees– This native trees have grow 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!!

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9. Build a pizza oven– this is the Mr.’s idea! He built his own Blacksmithing forge, so I’m looking forward to having a delicious out of the oven pizza!

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10. Grow different produce– This year I’m going to grow: several different varieties of tomatoes, Apple melons, different gourds, cucumelons, luffas and so much more!

11. Continue tracking the solar panels– Last year was our first year of tracking our panels. Next year I’m hoping that they continue to produce well for us!

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12. Work on garden cart sales– The Mr. made that beautiful cart for sales this summer!

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Did you set any goals?! We are hoping to have checks next to them all al them next year! Let’s make 2018 a great one!

 

Green bean teepee diy!

During the 2017 growing season, I decided to build my first green bean teepee. I had envisioned my boy enjoying sitting in or hanging out in the teepee.

I saw a couple diys, but they never posted whether or not they grew well! So, here’s how I built it (And the results):

First, I had to source some bamboo to make the beast out of! Lucky for me, my husband works with a guy that has it invasively growing in his yard. So, he told us to come get it anytime we want! (Cost free!)

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Bamboo! They were about 7 feet long! 

Next, you need to really shove those bamboo poles into the ground! Like, about 6-8 inches in the ground. I just pushed mine in the ground and used my body weight to force them to stay put!

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They aren’t going anywhere! 

Then, I continued on with pushing the rest of them in the ground. It was 100% constructed by just me! I used 6 poles placed about 18 inches apart.

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I really looked like a pole vaulter shoving these in the ground! 

Up next, I used paracord to tie the tops together. I just kept tieing them together and knotting them!

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I had to use a stool to reach the top! 

I continued using the paracord to tie knots on each post to give the pole beans something to grow on. I spaced them about a foot apart from row to row. You could do it a lot closer, but I was running low on paracord!

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Green paracord for the beans to grow up!

And here is my finished project! The next step was to plant the bean plants all around it!

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Fully constructed! 

I planted the pole bean seeds really close together because something kept eating the seedlings!

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At first only 1 side really took off! 

Once I put bird netting around the seedlings, the other plants really started taking off! They did make it to the top!

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Beans enjoying the teepee! 

You can see the progression in the photos below!

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Our teepee looking great! 

So, even though I had to fight off pests, I would consider it a success! I harvested a lot of beans! But, will I do things differently next year? Yes!!!! Here’s what I’ll change:

🌱Don’t make it so tall! I couldn’t harvest those ones on the top! Be sure you can get them!

🌱start off with netting to protect the seedlings from the beginning! (We have a lot of rabbits and birds here!)

🌱 place the paracord closer together around the teepee! Then you won’t have them having a hard time growing up it!

We really got a lot of beans from this single teepee! I’d recommend this for anyone, and I enjoyed getting in the shady interior to pick beans! If you give it a try, or have before, let me know how it went for you! Keep blooming folks! 🌱💚

Growing sweet potatoes! (In clay soil!)

I have been enjoying growing sweet potatoes here in Western Maryland! They are a longer season crop and I tried something that REALLY helped them grow better! I made mounds with compost rich material and planted the sweet potato slip right in the top!

In months, the vines were spreading so quickly!

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Vines on the mounds
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Up close view of the vines! 

As the season went on, I could just scoop the mounds away to keep an eye on the size of the potatoes!

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An inside look at at the roots! 

Did I mention that they grow gorgeous flowers that all pollinators love!

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🐝❤️

Now on to how much we harvested this year! You will want to harvest them when the leaves start to yellow or before hard frosts. For me, that’s around the middle of October!

We actually were able to harvest a little over 30 pounds of sweet potatoes!

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All these from 1 sweet potato slip! 
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Before and after! 
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Grown in a raised bed! (1 slip!) 
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Grown in a pot

After digging up the sweet potatoes, you have to cure them. They need to be in a hot place for (80-90 degrees) for about 10 days!

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I kept mine in the green house!

After those 10 days, they go into storage in a dark cool place for months.

They are really forgiving plants and with the mounds, I was able to dig them up so much easier! So, these might need to be put on your 2018 list!

Best Thursday!!

Today was a normal day in third grade, but here at the homestead, it was pretty terrific!

I have been trying to save as many pumpkins as I can from the landfill! It takes so much time and energy to grow a pumpkin! I put up an event for taking pumpkins on my Facebook page, and I’ve received so many! My goal was 20, and I’m already at 22! So, I guess I better make a higher goal!

I’m beyond excited to have extra treats for the chickens and extra rotting material for my compost!

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Chickens enjoyed this pumpkin! 

We made one of our favorite less meat dishes: vegetable stir fry:

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Our delish dinner! 

Everything was from the garden: zucchini, winecap mushrooms, eggs and onions! Only the rice and carrots were bought from the store!

I was delighted to see that after I used up all the mushrooms that more had popped up!

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More mushrooms! 

And winecaps get pretty big! I decided to let some grow larger to drop spores!

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A big winecap mushrooms! 

I also found a couple of luffa gourds that I put in a different place! So, now we have been able to harvest 22!

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Luffa gourds! 

And the one and only baby chick that was hatched out this summer gave us her first egg. It’s not really brown or white. She’s a cross bred hen, but we love her just the same!

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A first egg! 

And a preview of a secret project for 2018:

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Secret project! 

The Mr is making something pretty amazing for me! (You can guess in the comments if you’d like!) It’s part of next year’s goals, so I’ll share in just a few months! Next post will be an update on our 2017 goals and accomplishments from  October.