Homestead News, Volume 23

Things have slowed down somewhat here for the winter. Outside of the opinion pieces we have been sharing for news, in our little corner of the world things are relatively quiet. We have our daily routines of animal chores, cooking and eating, and eating. The small lane that leads to our house is about 1/4 mile if you walk round trip. Frank walks it twice a day for about a mile or so. I usually make it about half to three quarters before the arthritis in my back starts complaining. We take the half hour drive to see my mother in the nursing home regularly. Some of those trips are easier than others. Her dementia is now limiting her speech significantly and it’s hard to keep her attention. So, go our days. Watching the demise of the world and wondering when it will reach our doorstep.

We have some food growing in the greenhouse along with some basil and flowers. More flowers than usual and surprisingly, some of them like to bloom in the winter.

Turnip greens

Salad fixings – amaranth, pak choy, kale, cress, lettuces

Looking out of the door that goes into the house.

Balsam – I had no idea they would bloom in the winter greenhouse.

And believe it or not, the tomatoes are blooming. I don’t think they will produce because it gets too cold at night.

But this will be the first plants I set out come spring if they make it until then.

Our baby goats are all on the ground for the year. We had one set of twins and two sets of triplets. One of the does has continued her mastitis problem from last year so we gave away two of her kids when they were four hours old. They got a few good drinks of colostrum and we sent more home with them. 

Now we have fresh milk again which we both consider to be a wonderful treat.

I have been using up some of my fabric and quilt batting making lap quilts to donate to the nursing home where my Mom lives. It’s part of my downsizing effort.

And speaking of eating, today is a good day for a pot of soup. It’s still warm outside, t-shirt weather, but I wanted to use some of our harvest for a good hot meal.

I don’t like the feeling that these tools are always necessary when I walk out the door to go milk the goats, or garden, or take a walk down our lane, but so go the days of our lives. Anymore, you just never know what you need to always be prepared for.

 Until next time – Fern

21 thoughts on “Homestead News, Volume 23

  1. I miss your posts and insight on things. I hope things are well for you two. May peace and comfort surround you.Bluesman

  2. I just noticed you use the water barrels in your greenhouse with plywood for stands. That is a great way to store water, a great place to put the barrels. I'm going to copy that idea.

  3. Just got through ordering new onions and garlic, plus a few other long term heirloom packed seeds. 10 pounds of carrots are going in the dehydrator and 4 pounds french green beans. My cats were waiting for treats from the uncured cooked ham I vacuum sealed. I spoke with a friend about food storage and she told me she had a months worth of frozen meals in her freezer. Spent the next hour educating her, then reminded her that her Grandma would have taken a wooden spoon to her behind for being ignorant. Grandma did not tolerate ignorance. Red

  4. Your comment about tools struck me as very interesting, Bluesman. The tools of our times. They change over time, always have. Look at this computer I am typing on and communicating with total strangers.The tools of our times. Keep them close and handy. You never know when you will need them.Good comment. Thank you. Fern

  5. Glad your soup turned out well, BJ, we enjoyed ours. You know, there are many times we feel alone in our perspectives and preparations, then someone like you comes along and reaffirms our commitment to do what we can to be ready. Ready for whatever comes our way each and every day.Frank keeps telling me it's going to be a really hot summer. I sure hope he's wrong. There is no telling what is coming our way in 2020, so many unbelievable things happen this year, who knows how it will end up a year from now. Fasten your seat belt and hang on. It may be a really wild ride.Fern

  6. Well, Nina, after our onion conversation I decided to try once more. I planted some seeds in dish pans in the greenhouse. After they come up I'm going to thin them into the bus tubs and see if they will grow to maturity in the tubs. Who knows, I may discover a way we can grow onions yet! If I could get an onion that is bigger than a golf ball, I will consider it a success. Fist size would be a miracle!Sounds like you found a way to have winter salads. Good for you!Blessings for the new year. Stay safe.Fern

  7. Fern,Thanks for all the green house pics , things are looking good and healthy. Tomatoes blooming in December , interesting, hopefully you can get them in the ground in the springtime. The kids are always cute and it is great to have fresh milk again.We make soup year round and can several quarts as well as freeze some. We keep a leftovers container in the freezer to accumulate soup scraps . We get some interesting soups and so far they all have been good.The times change and the tools change too. I used to be content carrying a good pocket knife , not any longer. Enjoy that greenhouse and those kids.Bluesman

  8. What a great view! Perpetual spring with all the greens and flowers growing. Now that’s a nice remedy for the blue days of January and February. Just walk outside your door and see all the plants growing and blooming. Puts a big smile on my face. And, the power of suggestion! When I saw your soup fixings I got a hankering for some homemade soup too. Off to the pantry and freezer to get ingredients for a big pot of soup for us. Turned out to be a big hit.Thanks for all the articles you and Frank have shared this year. I have enjoyed each one. They have a big impact on me – encouraging me to keep my pantry stocked and a watchful eye and ear to what is going on around me. BJ in GA

  9. Love the pics of your baby goats and all your plants. Makes me hoppin' crazy for summer gardening . . . but I know that we need the winter for slowing down and relaxing a little bit. Besides, we eat more seasonally and that, in and of itself, is another pleasure. You were saying above that you can't seem to grow onions. Gosh, I've always been so embarrassed to say I couldn't grow them well! Thank you for your honest input. We have been able to grow some small fist-sized onions so what I have done for the last 4 years is take them at that point, since they also still have some green on them, clean, slice and dehydrate them. Yes, I like a fresh onion now and then through the winter but my dehydrated onions are simply the \”berries\”!My little hotbox which is basically a box with styrofoam sheets for insulation and a sliding glass door on top, has been doing a really good job keeping us in lettuces, arugula and Swiss Chard this winter ad we're enjoying the fire out of salad!Always nice to read about what you and Frank are up to. Hope you had a blessed Christmas and that the New Year will hold great promise.

  10. Baby goats are very entertaining, Red. There is seldom a trip to the barn during feeding time that I don't laugh out loud.Thanks for telling me you're getting ready to start your seeds. I have had cabbage seedlings in mind for several days now. Time to pull out a few seeds and get started.We have squirrels and grow tomatoes, but haven't had any problems with them. We always have a few birds pecking at them, though. Do you have cats? Maybe ours keep the squirrels away….. I really don't know.You're right about having PPE. I can't imagine living somewhere that it would be on the restricted or outlawed list. That just wouldn't do. Take care, Fern

  11. Ordinary is good, Vicki, and very comforting in this day and age. I think of your window coverings when I work on the lap quilts. It is a gift to have fabric and the ability to create something out of it. I've been sewing my own clothes since I was about 12 or 13 years old. I don't make much anymore since I am retired and don't need new clothes, but I still have plenty of supplies on hand. You never know when they might come in handy. You know for those un-ordinary times we see coming.Fern

  12. As much as I like baby goats, Leigh, we like the milk even better.Yes, we're eating the amaranth in salads for the added nutritional value it offers. After the relatively successful, or so we thought, grain crop last summer we found out that the grain doesn't agree with us very well. It also made our sourdough bread crumbly and dry no matter how moist I made the dough. I know it doesn't have gluten and that affects the texture of the dough, but in the long run, we quit eating it. I'm trying some of that grain to see if it's viable for salad greens, otherwise I'll feed the grain to the chickens. I may see about growing a patch for the goats this summer. I have a 30 gallon trash can full of dried stems, leaves and chaff I am feeding the does, they really like it. We have learned a lot from the experience.I'm about ready to start up some early spring seedlings like cabbage and carrots. The greenhouse has really been a wonderful addition to our food growing efforts.Good to hear from you, Fern

  13. Hi Mette. Sorry to hear about your husband's injury and lack of fresh milk for your household. We usually end up buying milk for about 3 months each year while waiting for those fun baby goats to herald the arrival of fresh milk once again.I have never been able to grow onions. They stay very small and get overlooked until they disappear in the weeds.I am not familiar with a rigid heddle, you'll have to explain that one for us. If I were guessing, I'd say it's some kind of loom and you are weaving??Nice to hear from you. Take care, Fern

  14. I enjoy watching baby goats. My sister had them for years until she had to stop for a while. They would always butt her when she was milking their mama. We will be starting seeds for planting in the next week or so. I need to figure out a way to keep the squirrels from eating my tomatoes. Fern even though you wear PPE, at least you have it. Red

  15. Ordinary days are good. You with your goats and greenhouse and me with my Susie Homemaker stuff in my apartment. We need to enjoy the ordinary for I have doubts it will last much longer.

  16. I love seeing your new goat babies. That's always a joy. So you're planting amaranth to harvest small for salads? That's an excellent idea! Greenhouse looks really good.

  17. How I would love to have had your baby goats. I had to get rid of my dairy goats back in July due to my husbands health, plus he injured his only working hand. 😦 It has been a headache trying to obtain raw milk. There are no dairy facilities in my area. There use to be a goat dairy 70 miles from me, but she has even closed. I miss good fresh milk straight from the barn. This month has been trying since I had to replant my onions due to chickens getting into the garden. To late to replant the garlic. 😦 My goal for the new year is to start up with my rigid heddle. I enjoy making shawls, scraves and tea towels. I may not be great at it, but it is fun to create things. I hope you have a great new year.Mette

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