It’s Blog time!
Hello lovely people! How are you all doing? I know it’s not Thursday, but it is, you know, a day, and I’m blogging. I want to go out on a limb here and say that I am really knuckling down to be better about blogging regularly. I have stuff to say, and people who (I think) want to read and I want this thing to maybe try and get bigger and how can it do that if it only happens once in a while? I’ll admit, reading and following some other blogs makes me want to be just like them when I grow up, and I think focusing on more regular posts is where I’m going to start. Once a week isn’t impossible. Maybe even more some time. I don’t know.
Step two of this plan includes a little bit of, well, steering I guess I’ll call it. I mean, I don’t know if you all love the scattered, stream of consciousness, verbal diarrhea “form” of this thing, but I think it can take a little bit of honing and not lose its flavor. All I mean is that I think I am going to try to plan stuff I want to talk about more than 30 seconds before I type it, and also attempt to focus on certain things more and wander off into randomness less. Don’t worry; this “focus area” is still plenty broad enough to make it interesting: Homesteading. What I love about the idea of having a more homesteading-focused blog is that homesteading is really kind of anything. Literally. Whatever I want to talk about I can pretty much claim it’s homesteading in one way or another, but it still seems well planned. So, sit back, buckle up and watch me change virtually nothing and claim this is now a mostly homesteading blog!
The Carlos and I want to homestead. Another way to say that is that we want a farm. We want animals. We want to grow our own food. We don’t want neighbors. We want land and space and trees and gardens and all that happy stuff. We do not want to be city dwellers and we don’t want to rely on the grocery store as much (or maybe, someday, at all.) This is a rather popular dream right now (or, at least I think it is. That could just seem that way because I follow so many people that feel the same way on social media and blogs….) We are sort of in a position to buy a house and we are looking for the most land and space we can get for what we can afford. Every time a house comes available that we love, and we go and look and fall for it and try to follow up and it falls through, I get super sad and down. We will NEVER be able to buy a house. We will never homestead. We might as well give it up, eat fast food every day and rent an apartment (who am I kidding? Even if we didn’t have almost 30 chickens, we still have a beagle. Apartment living is not really an option.) Overdramatic? Of course it is. True? Not completely, but there are times when it feels like it is. I was going through this after the last “perfect” house fell through. Did I tell you about that one? We nicknamed it The Orchard. 1900s farm house, 15 acres. A long drive but doable. House was cute, land was awesome. Producing fruit trees. Like, a lot of them-apple, pear, cherry, plum, fig and blackberries all over (which are not abnormal but still count as fruit!) Unfortunately, it needs some work. And it’s a foreclosure, which means no one is doing any work on it to make it more sellable. They’ll just wait until someone with cash comes along and buys it as-is. And that is not us. At all. So we can’t buy and move to The Orchard. And I was sad and feeling like we will never be able to….you know. See above if you forgot. So, in an attempt to feel less failure-esque, I decided to think about all the things we are already doing that are homesteady. Some of these have become so ingrained for us now that I forget they’re not “normal.” And that’s how you can forget that you ARE making progress! So, here’s a list of how we already homestead where we are. By the way, these are in no particular order except that I just jump on and do one as I think of it.
- No microwave. We gave up our microwave right around the time the chickens moved in. Whether you worry about micro wave radiation eating your brain or making your chickens sick or not, we decided we didn’t need it. It took up valuable counter space, it was ugly, and anything we “needed” it for can be done on the stove, in the oven, or in our schmancy toaster oven my mom gave me for my birthday. There is research out there suggesting that microwaving your food can damage or change some of the nutrients. I don’t know if that’s true or not, and I don’t know whether the microwave itself is bad for people, but in the name of not using what we don’t need and trying to do things more “naturally,” we got rid of the microwave.
- Homemade Laundry Soap. I am not positive when I started doing this exactly, but I think I have done it 3 times and each time lasts several months. Less than a year ago I guess because I know I started the Bullet Journal before I made laundry soap, and I started the Bullet Journal late last September. So there you go. Making laundry soap is really easy and I’m happy we do it. The first two times it was just about perfect and I had only one small complaint. It ended up coagulating in the bottles and was a little hard to pour out, but if you shook it real hard it would come out, and once the level was down a bit, I added some water and it loosened even more. This last time, I used a different bar soap to start with and have not been as happy with the results. It’s still a practice in trial and error. Also, there are times when I think it’s not working as well as I would like (sometimes stuff smells a little bit less than super fresh) but there could be other factors, like our water or how long it sat in the washer or drier or on the desk or the bed or the floor and whether or not the dog slept on it at all. Work in process, but homemade laundry soap feels very homestead.
- Chickens of course!! Oh my goodness. Chickens. They are such a hoot to have. As anyone who has been here 5 minutes knows, we got baby chickies, two of them died, got another “pullet” off Craigslist (hi, Harold!) and raised them in our dining room for over 2 years. Our hopes for 6 hens quickly became recognition of what a pain in the ass 5 roosters are, especially to the one hen.
All the old ones! The orange one is Dora, the former only hen.
About 6 weeks ago the neighbors gave us all their chickens as they prepared to move and now we have 9 roosters, 15 hens and 5 juveniles, making a total of 29 chickens. And no worries. The new ones never lived in the dining room, and the old ones moved out!This is a chicken-free dining room! Also known as, you know, a dining room.This is the house the new ones lived in for a couple weeks.This is a picture of the partially-done house they all (usually) live in now!
And we went from less than 4 eggs a week to as many as 11 in a day (for some reason I desperately want one day to get a perfect dozen eggs. I have no idea why, but it’s a hope.) Now, I must admit, we do not eat enough eggs. Like maybe, MAYBE a dozen in a week. So we give the extras away. I would love to sell them to cover feed costs, but I also really just love the idea of giving away fresh, happy, nutritious awesomeness in the form of eggs. Seriously. I have six dozen eggs in my kitchen right now waiting for Carlos’s uncle to come pick them up. If there is one thing that will make you feel like a homesteader faster than anything else, it’s a bunch of chickens!
- Womp womp. I dearly loved our gorgeous, huge garden of the last couple of years. We are still learning how to garden and how to get it to work, but I had bitchin’ cucumbers and kale and cabbages. And bok choi. And beans. And almost tomatoes (tomatoes are hard. What can I say?) And I actually found a couple of raspberries out there in the overgrown wilderness that is the garden now! But we did not garden this year. We just didn’t. We have a lot of hoops to jump through with the state having to do with having the foster kids, and Carlos had some pretty lame health issues, and my car is still broken down, and we got busy and chickens and excuses. In the end, we don’t have a garden this year. But when we do, it’s awesome. And the chickies have a great time exploring where it was.
- Food preservation. Last year, I made jam. And I canned it. And I froze green beans. And blackberries. And that’s about it. But I did preserve food! This year I did even less. I froze some blackberries. I think that’s about it. But I did start and did a little, and I have plans. Plum butter, apple sauce, jam, pickled asparagus. Mom and Jay gave me a dehydrator, and just as soon as I think of something to dehydrate, I’m on it. You gotta start somewhere. And I did. I homesteaded.
- This is one of those sort-of homestead but totally homestead because I said so kinds of things. In my following of blogs that homestead, I have been learning about a whole new (to me) thought process on food: traditional food. I’ve mentioned it some recently and what it entails, i.e. real fat, grains prepared properly, raw milk, fermented foods, just say no to processed garbage. And I want it. I want to eat this way. And I want it NOW! I want goats and a cow (both make milk but I don’t want to pick just one!) I want to raise and butcher (eek!) my own meat. I want to cook good meals with lard and tallow and raw milk and all that stuff. I want but I do not yet have. We cannot allow ourselves goats (or really any more animals) until we have our own house. And I am slowly learning to make real food but cooking is hard and I am not getting there. And I want to buy local beef and pork but I do not have that kind of cash available right now. And that’s okay. I can start where I am standing and move forward as I can. And that means kefir. Kefir is a fermented food. Fermented foods are good for us because they help our gut bacteria and make us healthy and more able to break down and use nutrients. And it’s super easy! You get some kefir grains (again, I have extra if anyone wants some!) and you put them in milk. You leave them on your counter for a while (or in your fridge for a while longer. I am still figuring this out.) After a while, you strain out the grains and put them in new milk and you drink the milk they left behind. Think yogurt, only simpler, runnier, and a little (or a lot if you let them go too long) sour to the taste. I am currently the only one in the house drinking kefir, and I don’t know that there’s any real difference in my digestion, but it still counts as doing something and I’ll take all of that that I can get! The plan is to give kefir to the kids, too, probably in the form of smoothies, but they have suddenly decided that they don’t like smoothies (probably sense that I want to make them consume something good for them….) I’ll get some into them yet.
That’s all I can think of at the moment. Depending on how narrow your focus, I guess there’s probably more that counts as homesteading, but as busy as we’ve been lately, these are the only things I can think of at the moment. Well, I mean, I quit using shampoo and use baking soda and apple cider vinegar now. That counts if you assume that everything I learn from homesteading blogs counts! (And by the way, my hair is actually pretty awesome on that regimen!) We don’t have garbage service and take our stuff to the dump. We recycle a lot. We don’t have cable. We refuse to buy new cars and incur car payments. Um, I want to go to the fair and learn about animals. Oh, yeah. And I can make and sell Lavender Lemonade, although at this time I’m not. Yeah, I guess you can count all those things, and if you do, we’re pretty well started on homesteading. Even without the homestead of our own part.
Thanks you guys for hanging out. Next time I think I’ll go into more detail about what specifically we want to do next and why. (See? I’m even sort of planning these now!) I hope you all have an awesome weekend and Go Hawks! (And can we all be thankful for a moment that football season is back? Yes we can!)