I don’t have a title

Hello friends! Christ is risen! Happy May! After a second cold snap in which we got snow, hail and frost, we made it and are now lounging in 80 degree days. We have the stomach bug right now, so that has been fun. So I’ll just enclose pictures with captions.

I’m trying to sprout my seeds ahead of time for summer. Who knows if this will work
I got a small spinach harvest from the bottom garden! Glory be to God (then forgot about and wilted it on my counter and finally threw it into soup)
We are working on a 4th garden, the Mandala garden. It’s mostly a hügelkultur style garden that we are revamping and adding too from my mother in law
I made my sandwich bread with sourdough. It was delicious.
I started trying to make tea time happen again
Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

I hope you’re all having a good spring. Summer

Lilac Palooza!

Blessed Holy Week dear friends. Happy Eastern to the western calendar!

Well last week I went a little crazy, as I am want to before Holy Week. The lilacs were blooming and I was surfing pinterest and stumbled upon my many lilac recipes. Of course I found these before when lilacs were out of season so I’d never had a chance to try them. But my mother in law has an abundance of lilac bushes, which just delights my heart. And we ran out the jelly. Now most people just head to the store but I’ve been mostly making our own jelly for about 2 years now. And I knew I had blackberries in the freezer for just such a purpose.

So I found a wonderful recipe for lilac cordial. But why stop with a delicious drink! I had blossoms to spare. I needed jam! So jam I made.

First you harvested the blossoms
Then you destemed them
This is the cordial jars. It should actually be ready soon

The blossoms
The jars. It’s turned a lovely shade of pink now
The lilac tea you make for the jam
So pretty. It didn’t stay this color though
The frozen blackberries dethawing

Anyways it was a lot of fun. I think I kind of ruined the lilac jelly a bit but no one has complained. The texture is a bit off for me. The the flavor is good. Very floral and honey like. The blackberries bring me memories of summer and joy so I do love blackberries best. Unfortunately I need a ton of berries to supply how much jam we go through. So I have to make do with other types! So there you go! The recipes I used are below.

So now I have stored up food for the long cold winter. Actually not. I made about 22 jars of various sizes (I doubled the lilac recipe). So now we have some jam for a while until spring hits us with full force and there will be berries to pick and fruit and more jam to be made that way. Whoot!

I’m dyeing eggs today! So I’ll have a what I did post I’m sure as well. He is almost here eastern friends! Enter into the passion and then the joy of our Lord!

April showers bring May flowers

Well there are not usually any April showers around here. But it might rain next monday so maybe it will!

The garden continues to grow. I thought I was done planting spring stuff then I changed my mind and planted a whole other bed. It hasn’t sprouted yet so we shall see. It’s also supposed to be in the 80s tomorrow and thursday! So that should help the seeds germinate. Hopefully…. maybe.

The seeds from the orchard garden are starting to grow true leaves and getting big! That just makes my heart go pitter patter! I might actually grow something!!! Maybe. Well I mean things are certainly growing. The question is will they produce? A yet unknown question.

A celery and a bok choy! Yay! Celery is supposed to be really hard to grow from seed. But somehow I have a number of sprouts in many places.
I have no idea what this is. It looks like a squash? But I don’t remember planting squashes….
Something with pretty leaves is growing. Again no idea.
Lupin looking so fine!
Onion! I’ll at least grow 2 onions this year😂
Pretty sure this is bok choy. Though I’ll admit it now looks more like a radish though I didn’t plant any. Plants are confusing
I’m pretty sure this is calendula! I love calendula. I use it for all sorts of medical things and the flowers is edible.
Purple bok choy! So pretty
Comphry and a flower I don’t recognize. Maybe snapdragon?

The compost bins are finished and we have moved on to making compost now! Noah designed a 3 bin system. I don’t know what that system is but he designed it. It has a lid to keep the scrounging dogs out and he build a compost sifter for the top.

Proud man.

I am attempting to start my summer seeds in a very easy manner. I definitely prefer direct sow, or really direct plant lovely expensive transplants. Ah. I’m so bad at it. But if I really want to garden for my own consumption I need to figure out how to grow things from seed. In the mountains here my growing season is shorter than the endless summer in the valley. So I probably need to figure out how to start my seeds ahead of time. So I’m trying the milk jug method. You basically create a green house inside a milk jug. One of my favorite homesteaders, three river homestead, who introduced me to this idea, said they even work in the snow for her! Pretty cool. Basically you cut a milk jug almost in half and then put dirt in it (ok seed starter mix). I poked holes in the bottom of mine for ambitious bottom watering only. You leave the lid off, plant your seeds then tape the sides shut. Voila! A perfect mini green house. . Well we shall see.

Labeled so I hopefully don’t forget what I’m growing😂
So many seeds.

There is probably more to tell, however this is not one of those great how to homesteader blogs. This is a short journal style blog. Thanks to the faithful who follow along. Oh!

I have also discovered a pretty good natural allergy remedy! Short backstory, I’ve been allergy ridden all my life. I’m allergic to a vast number of things (though no foods that I’m aware of (ok actually not true anymore but that was in the last 6 months). At one point for about 6 years I was taking a prescribed allergy pill every day all year long. But I don’t really like pills or to be dependent on pills. So I’ve been looking for a natural cute. I also stopped taking it while pregnant and it was rough. I tried apple cider vinegar, which does work for a short bit. But I really needed something stronger.

Enter stinging nettle. Guys it works!!! I ran out about a month ago and I had been lagging, as I do, to order more. This week I hit the wall of misery. Uncontrollable sneezing and blowing my nose. My poor nose is completely chapped and raw around the edges. But my God’s grace, my nettle I ordered from mountain rose herbs arrived the same day. While I’m not 100% better, I’m doing so much better and well on the way to recovery. Thank you Lord! So order some nettle leaf if you’re a fellow sufferer. Drink in tea in large quantities. I drink probably between 4 to 6 cups a day. But I really use a big mason jar so in reality it’s just 2 cups a day, but each “cup” is about 3 measuring cups each. It’s worth it guys. I combine it with licorice root (don’t do this if you have blood pressure issues) and dandelion root and it’s quite tasty. Still kind of tastes like dirt, but the licorice root makes it sweet. Which is excellent. So anyways, that is my cure. And I’m very happy with it.

Tell me your allergy tricks and tips. Not going outside isn’t a great option for me.

March Reads

March was a good book month because Great Lent started. I cut down on phone time so I spent a lot of time reading. So on to it!

  • Silas Marner by George Eliot
  • “Three years she grew” by William Wordsworth
  • Phantases by George Macdonald
  • A Common Life by Jan Karon
  • A New Song by Jan Karon
  • Just so Stories by Kipling

Silas Marner was really beautiful story about justice and love and bitterness and rebirth. I read it for the literary life podcast. It’s pretty short as far as George Eliot’s works go (it’s no middlemarch). It’s a lovely fairytale like feel with gold and a hidden secret and a mystery.

I don’t remember too much about the poem by Wordsworth. I read it in connection with Silas Marner (George Eliot quotes it). But I did enjoy it when I read it on my phone between binging on Silas Marner. So that is that.

Phantastes is a weird book. It’s all about this young man’s adventures in fairyland. The first part is weirdly sexual? Nothing like today’s novels but still just a bit odd. Then again I’ve read some of his romance novels so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. But the ending was just beautiful. Really beautiful about sacrificial love and what true love is. There is a podcast that goes with it but I haven’t listened to it yet. (Edit: I started the pod cast, within 5 minutes they completely reframed what I had been thinking about the book. It echos Spenser’s the Faerie Queene and it’s a questing book. The first temptation the res cross knight suffers is a sexual temptation, so now I get why the sexual vibes in the beginning. So see folks. Listen to good podcasts. )

The two books by Karon are part of her Mitford series. Which is about an Episcopal priest and his adventures. Ok so I honestly hate most Christian literature. But the first one was very beautiful. I guess I technically finished the new song one in April but I’m putting them both here. The new song one had an alter call in it which left a bad taste in my mouth but overall I enjoyed it.

We finished Just so Stories with the kids. I loved it. Probably fairly over their heads but as long as I’m reading to them, they don’t really care. I loved the ones about how language came about. As linguist those things stir my heart and not so far off from some theories out there. Just a warning there is one use of an offensive word that I haven’t made final decisions about but it’s just in one story. And completely normal for the time but it did cause me to scrambled a bit. Still have no final decision on that.

Anyways that is what I finished. I’m still plowing through The Field but it’s excellent reading for Great Lent. What did you read last month? Anything I should be reading too? Oh I also decided I’d be interested in a biography on LM Montgomery if you know a good one, drop it here!

Sprouting seeds It’s spring!

Ok I know I just wrote a post but I have more sprout pictures so I have to show them to you! Lots of pictures and not too much talking (well we shall see…)

Even though there is a seed still attached to this one, 0 clue

I’m honestly so thrilled the orchard garden is coming up. I can’t stop talking about it. You know that feeling when you’ve failed so many times before and you’re almost sure you’re going to fail again but then you succeed? That is what it feels like. I’m such a fly by the seat of your pants and often that backfires so much. (See my fall garden two years ago and the summer garden). Having more land has definitely freed up my fear of failure.

Feel free to tell me what you thunk they are

But of course, now I worry about the summer garden. Because I don’t like transplanting, the time is now to start those indoor seeds. I also live in a new climate where summer is much shorter overall. I’m trying to will up the energy to plant the milk jugs I’ve been saving. But it hasn’t happened yet. Probably because I’m worried about that too. Ah the fear of failure paralysing me at every turn. Don’t be like me. Don’t worry so much.

This is the only one I’m fairly sure about. Pretty sure it’s lupine

The lupine is supposed to be a nitrogen fixer, which means it puts nitrogen in the soil and it’s something you plant with fruit trees which in general take nitrogen out of the soil (as I understand it). I tried to plant some with my last fruit tree at my old house but I don’t know if they ever sprouted. Maybe they did. I hope so. I love lupine. The bees love it too.

Carrot maybe? Did I plant carrot here….
Working on the bottom garden

We started the bottom garden too. First we meadow forked the soil. Then we hauled compost down and covered the ground. Noah is worried about planting straight into compost after our last experience with it. Can’t say I blame him but since the orchard garden is coming up I’m hopeful. Now we are haphazardly planting many different things. And now I’m thinking I already told you all this… oops. Noah would like to experiment with mixing part of the bed with the soil already there and seeing if it grows better. I’m sure it will but I’m lazy. Just want to get plants in the ground.

My mother in law also had some flowers whose names I forget planted where we put the garden, so I dug those up and moved them to the hill side that needed some roots to hold it up. We are thinking about planting blueberries there at some point maybe.

I also need to reshape the hügel Kultur beds. We had my chickens work them over and now it’s all scattered about. Also mother in law wants us to top with new compost. So I need to do that at some point too. Lots to do but not always strong in motivation. Did I mention it’s lent?

Crocus! Isn’t it beautiful?
Not quite finished compost bins

The compost bins are almost done! Unfortunately, Noah had to stop and take his mom to the ER yesterday. She is alright, a migraine that won’t quit poor thing, but it finished the day for him.

My hens were unhappy about their new laying box. They were escaping and laying willy nilly everywhere. But my mother in law finally solved the problem! She got a round feeding tub and filled it with shaving. Bam! Super happy! 3 eggs so far today!

Tell me your spring dreams! Do you have plants in? What did you plant? Have you started seeds for summer yet?

Blessed Lent

Forgive me a sinner, dear friends, for any way I have offended you in thought, word, or deed!

We had snow in February, right after a week of 70 degree days. I learned anew I don’t like cold. Or hot. I’m a goldilocks. The kids enjoyed the snow though.

I did bake lots of bread though. Sourdough is alive and well in this household. And I tried chocolate in my sourdough. And oh my goodness. That is amazing! With some warm butter. Awww my mouth is watering and it’s only the second day of lent.

Sourdough for days. You have to try the chocolate.
Turns out my chickens like snow. They are snow birds.

Violets! My mother in law has planted many areas with beautiful perennials.

I need to order some more bread flour. We are running low!

—- 2 weeks later—-

Oh I should finish this post shouldn’t I?

Things are going well. My seeds started coming up in my garden bed! I’m ecstatic. I have no idea what is coming up, but I think it’s bok choy. Yum. I was really starting to feel like a seed failure. But thank God, I can still get things to sprout. Whether they will survive is another question but for now they have sprouted!

Covered to keep out the birds my mother in law suggests

I haphazardly planted another bed we are preparing today. So hopefully that one will sprout too since it’s warmer now. Noah asked me what I planted and I don’t remember. So ya that will be fun. It will be even more fun when I plant more things in it and can’t remember where I had already planted. Don’t be like me. Label things. Take notes. Remember where you planted.

The kids helped so it wasn’t just me planting haphazardly

The baby chicks are getting bigger. So farm life is bustling. But honestly I’m pretty worn out from last week church marathon. I hope to make it to presanctified tomorrow but it’s looking doubtful. But glory be to God in all things.

They are in that ugly teenager stage now

I got some calendula and strawberry starts for the kid’s garden. I’m not sure I gave their garden the best chance. But I hope these plants will brighten their days a bit.

Planted with the calendula. I just got the strawberries today

So on life goes. During Lent, there is lots of church, which I love but is also exhausting me. I’m trying to learn to be patient and not demand that I go to all the things. Family life is just as important and as a very wise women said to me “they have a life time of lents ahead of them, you don’t need to take them to all the services.” I don’t really want to listen to that advice but two of her kids are nuns so she knows what she is talking about. So trying to accept my limitations and pray more. I’m also trying to have a spirit of joy and I am not sure Im Succeeding so well. So time for more prayer to help me with that.

Anyways this turn long and rambly. Blessed lent to you all!

February Reads

Reading didn’t go as well this month. This month was a bit harder mentally with a cold section and just the after shock of everything happening in my life. But I still did finish some things!

Well 2 books. I did finish several the first week of March but I’ll save them for March.

  • Prince Caspian by c.s. Lewis
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare

Prince Caspian was my read aloud with the kids. They loved it. It’s so much fun to see how they enjoyed the book. While it’s a little over their heads, the action parts that they enjoyed, the battles, the adventures, the single combat all fascinated them. I look forward to rereading this with them in a few years to see what they get out of it this time.

I read Shakespeare with my obsession podcast, The Literary Life, which was thoroughly enjoyable. I listened to the Jim Weiss kids audio version of this as a child and have long loved this play. It was a nice thing to reread and get a lot more out of it this time! I wish I would have thought to read it to the kids, they would have enjoyed parts of it, but it always seemed the wrong time. Probably shouldn’t let that stop me at other times. Do you read Shakespeare to your kids if you have them? How do you feel about kids versions of books? I have some feelings but they are not set in stone and I’d be interested to hear what you have to say!

So I hope this month makes you feel better about your reading life. I’m on track to have a successful March but Lent started and I stopped going on facebook. So don’t be fooled. Sometimes it’s just hard for me to read. And sometimes it’s like breathing. Often this correlates to how much I’m enjoying my currrnt set of books. And how depressed I am.

I’m on the hunt for a couple of good biographies if anyone has recommendations. I’m looking for both a living biography and someone who had a been dead a long while. Biographies are in general not really my area so I’m interested to see what you guys have to say!

So tell me what to read and tell me what you read last month!

False spring? Must plant things

I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago and got distracted! I didn’t finish it but this is what I wrote.

I’ve got spring fever for sure! It’s 70 degrees, we haven’t had a fire in days, and I need to plant things in the ground.

But first. I uh… went a little crazy at the seed shop

Oops? Sorry not sorry?

I want a huge garden this year. I mean huge! After many years of small amounts of space I’m relishing the fact that I can spread out. I’m also deeply afraid it won’t work out and I’ll have another failed summer garden on my hands. But as my husband keeps telling me, you won’t know if you don’t try. I’m going to try!

Also more rambling. It’s hard when you have conflicting goals. On the one hand, we’d like to be as regenerative as possible. Building soil on our own site from what we use and putting it back into the Earth. But none of that is set up here yet and my goal is to have a big garden so I don’t have to go to the store very often this summer. How to get stuff to grow well when you don’t have the system set up yet and you don’t want to use potting soil?

It’s a conundrum. Currently we are doing a blend. We bought a Meadow Creature. Man these babies are expensive but so far it’s a dream. It decompacts the soil allowing water to penetrate deep into the ground, storing water for future use. Well we have only had it for a month but even I can use it which I call a win. I really like it. Hopefully it’s a worthwhile investment. And we bought some compost. Unlike the compost we bought last year, this stuff was still warm and smells like earthy molasses. So hopefully it’s good?

So our plan is to meadow fork the beds and add a layer of compost on top of it. We will probably do a combination of direct sew and seed starts. My MIL had good success with her milk jug green houses last year and I’d also like to try them.

I’m worried about pest control. Specifically moles, voles, and gophers! So I’m trying interplanting garlic and marigolds. I’m also expecting to endure some losses. We shall see. Maybe I will have no garden because the moles and voles got to it all. But I won’t know for sure if I don’t try! (And I’m hedging my bets by planting in my MIL’S hügel beds)

Spring is coming and you know what that means! Lent! Yes, tomorrow is the start of the Lenten Triodion, or the 3 sundays leading up to the start of lent. Of course the last 2 fasting friendly (ish) meals I’ve made have been sort of disasters. So I anticipate an exciting culinary adventure time for lent. (In general, Orthodox Christians fast from meat and dairy among other things during lent, the 40 days before Pascha/Easter. I’m probably doing some sort of modified version). But I’m super excited to be singing and in church again. There is very little traffic on our new way to church so I anticipate making it perhaps a little more often to Presanctified!

Ok back to planting! I made the kids garden beds this week. Today they planted them. E is very interested in growing calendula flowers so he can eat them. Miss E is excited to grow bok choy (no idea why as she doesn’t even like it). And EM is a surprisingly good planter for one and a half.

Ironically though their plots look like graves

Burning that midnight oil

Whenever I start feeling stressed or overwhelmed I stop sleeping. Typically around 2 to 3 am when I am awakened by a little child who needs something. Depending on the level of anxiety, the sleeplessness lasts for 1 to 5 hours. It’s always a sign to me that something is weighing on my mind. I have various tricks that help sometimes. And sometimes nothing helps. Right now I’m trying the write a blog post trick.

Even though I sometimes question did we do the right thing to move before property (usually in the hard moments), it is really beautiful to see how much E has blossomed. Really they all have, except meal bug who is struggling pretty hard. She has been having a real hard time. Probably because she is a toddler who just started talking and can’t express what she needs, and we moved, and she just got knocked off the baby train 6 months ago. It’s led to so much screaming and not sleeping. So it’s extra ironic that I’m awake not sleeping because she is sleeping right now!

Poor little angel (who is not acting like one right now😅)

But despite my parenting struggles, there has been fun homesteading things happening. We bought 5 apple trees! I also planted one all by myself!

Ta dah! Apple tree by me (after watching Noah do the other 4)

We also bought this super cool (and expensive 😅) tool called Meadow Creature. It sinks into the ground and decompacts the soil up to 14 inches! It’s also usable by me! Which is good because up here the dirt is red clay. Hard. That was how I was able to dig the tree! I used the meadow fork and then dug up the dirt! Cute pictures of kids in meadow fork coming your way!

I also am attempting a wild potato experiment. I had some potatoes that started sprouting, so I took the bag, a knife, and a shovel and headed off into the woods. I found old stumps and planted potatoes by them. I honestly have 0 belief that this will work. The moles and voles and other things that eat your plants are pretty bad around here. But I thought, hey this is free to try and something might come out of it?

Literally 0 idea what I’m doing

Last time I checked the vermin had definitely eaten one of the slips. Maybe they won’t find the others?

Sometimes I feel like that is just homesteading, trying things to see if they will work for you or not.

Speaking of vermin, that is my big concern this year, how to keep the losses down. My MIL does hügelkultur beds with hardware cloth to keep them out, but I am dreaming of a giant garden so that doesn’t quite work. I guess my hope and prayer is if it’s big enough they won’t be able to eat it all? I also bought 3 giant bags of organic garlic at costco and am going to interplant/line the beds with garlic in an attempt to keep them lit. But I’m all ears if you have more advice on keeping out those pesky varmints. That is definitely one thing about urban homesteading, you don’t usually have many animals to contend with, except in my case for the neighborhood cats.

This little man planted this comphry all by himself
The kids helped their dad plant the other trees
Miss E learned how to catch her first chicken!
E caught the rogue chicken from Nonnie that kept getting out
Gathering the eggs (he love country life😍)

This post keeps getting longer but I can’t help it. My friend also gifted me her stinging nettle population from her yard. She weirdly doesn’t want them anymore. Nettle is great for allergies and iron so I’m excited to have tea and maybe a tincture if I can get my act together. Unfortunately the tea tastes like dirt which I don’t love. I keep finding nothing truly healthy tastes good though. It’s a bane but I keep pushing through it by eating chocolate chips. #healthtipswithrachael

Dirt tea
Got 2 bags out of it though!
Drying out for maximum deliciousness

Ok I’ll stop. I do have yummy bread pictures to show but I’ll save that for a future post that I will certainly forget to write.

There has been no rain since we moved which is both a blessing (half of our stuff and my mother in laws stuff is still outside) and a curse because it’s winter and it’s supposed to rain. It’s been cold but in the sun quite warm. Hence the children’s disdain for jackets.

Are you stuck in snowmageddon that seems to be the midwest right now? Tell me your dreams for spring!

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