Homestead News, Volume 24

Life goes on here on the homestead, in the local area, in the country and in the world. Precarious though it may seem at times, the store shelves (here at least) are still filled with an abundance of frankenfood, the lights are still on and water still comes out of the tap when I turn it. 

We continue to adjust our lives for our current and future physical abilities while continuing to prepare our minds for what may be coming down the road one day. We have recently had two and a half acres of our ten acre pasture fenced off for our much smaller herd of goats. This still allows us to have four small pastures for animal rotation, but makes it much easier to manage. We are debating about trying to hire someone to brush hog the remaining acreage once a year, or listing it for sale. Our decision changes from day to day, so for now we are just going to let things settle. We are in no hurry.

Our four does – two adults, two kids

Buck and young wether

The eleven year old matriarch of our goat herd is no longer with us. One Stripe was part of the first herd we acquired when we moved here in 2008. She never met anyone she didn’t like and loved to be petted. She gave us many babies, lots of milk and much affection. All of the does we have now are from her line. 

One Stripe


We also no longer have our wonderful Pearl. She was a one of a kind dog and we miss her. She was great with the goats and devoted to the two of us. We’ll be dog-less for a while. We don’t look forward to training another puppy, but one will come along again when the time is right.

Pearl


We’re also preparing the acre surrounding the house for eventual use as pasture. When the day comes to really downsize the land, if we haven’t already, we will sell the ten acres with the current barn. Then we will use this area around the chicken house for any pasture we may still want to use. It will maintain a couple of goats, although we would have to feed more hay year round.

In preparation for that we have had some overgrown brushy areas cleared out along with tons of pine needles.

This older storage shed has seen better days. We’ve been fighting a leaking roof for years. Now we’re working on emptying it out so it can be moved out by a neighbor that wants it. In the process we are donating many things to a local church that works with individuals and families that are in recovery from alcohol and drugs. It’s good to be able to pass on some things to people in need, but it’s also difficult to start downsizing instead of building up. It’s probably something most people go through as they age, and now it’s our turn.

I have been making some simple cheeses since we are enjoying fresh goat milk again. I tried an herb cheese with onion and garlic, but it came out really strong. Frank doesn’t even like to smell it. I tried a small wheel with fresh basil from the greenhouse a couple of days ago. We haven’t tried it yet, but it smells much milder so I hope this wheel is edible.

 

As time goes on we find we eat less, quite a bit less. Our sauerkraut crock is wonderful, but is now too big. We recently got some air lock lids to make kraut by the jar. This is our first experiment. We had them in the pantry for a dark place, but I didn’t remember to check on them, so I moved them into one of the kitchen cabinets. Two of the jars turned out fine, but the one that wasn’t full didn’t. I don’t know if it was the amount of cabbage or if it was because we didn’t include the rubber gasket in the lid when we put it all together. Another learning experience. It’s always good to learn. I am going to try peppers this way this summer. I think that would be good. And maybe okra? I’m not sure if they will ferment/pickle very well. I will have to read more about that before I try it.

I have been working on a door hanging for my mother who is in the nursing home with dementia. She has been there for two and a half years now. I agree with all of the people that told me over a year ago that this is a very cruel disease. We pray for her peace and comfort every day, and I pray for her release from this world. I can usually still get her to smile and laugh. She even sang Happy Birthday to Frank (I got it on video on my phone) recently and she hadn’t sang with me for months. It was very touching.

The greenhouse continues to feed us some nice green things a few times a week, and is now housing some seedlings, or the dirt that holds seeds that will soon be seedlings.

Two ages of cabbage seedlings

Will be carrots, tomatoes and peppers.

Carrots are just beginning to peek out.

Onions

I am going to cut the tops of these tomato plants, root them and start them in pots. I hope to get some big seedlings ready this way. We still have that one tomato that has been growing slowly all winter. I don’t know if it’s going to ripen or not. Frank thinks it will be really tough if it ever does.

 

We are saving eggs to start the incubator tomorrow. These eggs will be hatching the same time the day old chicks we ordered will be arriving. We’ll raise them all together, keep a replacement laying flock and butcher the rest. It’s a good seasonal activity. Eggs to meat to the table. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

For now, the garden lays fallow, but it won’t be long before we will plant it once more. Hope is eternal when there is spring on the way.

Our country? The world? Viruses, plagues, pandemics, politics, food shortages, lies, corruption, greed? It just goes on and on and on. Every so often I get a small, tiny spark of hope that the world will keep on turning, people will come to their senses and we can continue to live in some semblance of peace, but then the next ‘thing’ appears and extinguishes that spark pretty quickly. So, life goes on. Until it doesn’t. We do what we can and try to be realistic about what we can and can’t do. We try not to play head games with ourselves and pretend we are going to go running through the woods chasing bad guys if the collapse occurs. Not going to happen. Reality. Sometimes difficult to deal with. Choosing not to? Not an option on our homestead. How are things going on yours?

Until next time – Fern
 

16 thoughts on “Homestead News, Volume 24

  1. We have not had much of a winter, Bluesman. I think our lowest temperature was in October and we never made it down to the teens.We read Solomon recently and I have been saying that same phrase at times since then. There is nothing new under the sun. It's just our turn to experience some things that haven't been as prevalent up until this point.Frank keeps saying it's going to be a really hot summer, and he's not just talking about the ambient temperature. Too many things are heating up around the globe and it's not due to the fallacy of global warming. Be ready.Fern

  2. It does hurt, BJ, you're right about that. Sounds like we are on the same track in different locations. It feels good to simplify and reorganize, at the same time, it's sad and sentimental. Weird stage of life we never really gave much thought to until it arrived. Like I always say, it's good to learn new things, even if it is a decline instead of an increase.Fern

  3. The greenhouse is a year to year adventure, Grammy. I still try new things every year, not expecting some things to work that do, and others I think will work that don't. Enjoy! Fern

  4. Sorry to hear about Shadow, Red. It's always hard, but it's part of life.Sounds like your gardening adventures for the year have started. Good for you.You made me laugh with your P.S. Ditto!Fern

  5. It's really like an about face, Leigh. We have always been on an upward trajectory, now we have passed the maintaining stage and entered the decline of physical abilities which entails a mature, logical decisions about what to continue, and how to do it. Add in the condition of the world, viruses, politics and the like, and the decisions we make now are even more important to our survival. It's a crazy world, that's for sure.Congrats on your new baby goats. Hope they gain strength and vitality. Get some rest.Fern

  6. Thank you, Grammy, we do. But at the same time, it is a relief to not worry about her or Pearl suffering. It's a hard call to make, but there is comfort in knowing you made the right call.Take care, Fern

  7. I am itching to get in the garden, LL. Our last average frost date is April 12the now. It used to be April 1st. Interesting, huh? We hope to till the garden today and again on Sunday. But we also plan to can some store bought pinto beans today among other chores. We'll see how much we get done. After the tilling and the next rainy spell I plan to plant turnips, kale and cabbage. With the crazy spinning of the world, I really would like to start growing this year's crops. Take care, Fern

  8. Thanks for your post. Your garden starts look great , we are about 3 weeks away from getting ours started indoors. I do wish we had a greenhouse , but too many other priorities to do.Our winter has been warmer than normal, but some severe flooding in our area. Our last frost is usually the end of April, but we'll see what this spring has in mind . We continue to monitor information about the Grand Solar Minimum and will try some tomatoes this year with a shorter time to maturity.We too are beginning to downsize stuff that we 've collected over the years. Lots of things that mean nothing to our kids but at one time were precious to us .That is a project that takes time but at our age it is necessary to do. What did Solomon say , \”nothing new under the sun\”. Events are similar but the names and places are different. Mankind has a hard time learning from the past . We don't have TV so we are not exposed to all the blather( propaganda) that is strewn about , but the internet keeps us informed about things that that matter to us.We feel a storm is on it's way , prepare for it .Thanks again for your postings,Bluesman

  9. I like reading your Homestead News. You put so much into each update. I can relate to most everything you have done and are planning to do. First, I’m so sorry for the loss of your beloved animals. It’s easy to tell that they were loved and appreciated.With each year we are realizing we cannot maintain what we have built up. Because of our age and declining health we’re at the point we must begin downsizing and it hurts! You mentioned moving to your homestead in 2008 and that is the year our outlook changed and we started looking at what we needed to do to prepare for what we thought would be here even before now. What a difference 12 years have made. In 2008 we thought we could handle most anything – that’s what youth can do for you. Now our mortality, our reality, has come almost full circle. It’s not that our needs have changed but our ability to deal with those needs has changed.We will continue to put in a garden but a much smaller garden. We are planning to sell tractors and equipment, clean out the cabinets and closets in the house of things that are no longer needed. Find new homes for those items that would be useful to others. These plans are already underway and I must say the space that has been freed up is most welcome. Rather than regretting giving up possessions I’m feeling joy with having the additional space with less to maintain and care for.Thank you for your example and inspiration. BJ in GA

  10. This is my first year with my greenhouse, and I love it already. I know there will be a learning curve, but I'm always willing to learn new ways to feed my family. We ALL need to be more self-sufficient, but I know I'm preaching to the choir.

  11. Fern~ My condolences to Frank and you on the passing of Pearl and One Stripe. We just lost our 19 year old cat Shadow. We have various squash and tomato seedlings we started which will be going into raised beds this coming week with row cover over them. The garlic is sprouting also. Why is it that TPTB always tout the \”Right to Choose\” for a woman on killing an innocent life but want total control on the food we eat and who will supply it. Lord. please keep the evil and misguided intentions of of those who seek to do harm to one and all. Redp.s. Lord maybe a few Biblical Lightening Bolts and some old fashioned whoop ass might be in order.

  12. I love your homestead updates. This is where the real nitty-gritty of preparedness lives. We're thinking ahead to lifestyle modifications as we get older as well. There have been times over the years when I felt frustrated because wanted to get on with greater self-sufficiency, but now, I'm so thankful for a warmer home (which translates to needing less firewood!) and the outbuildings we've upgraded or built. I agree with your last paragraph. I have to moderate how much \”news\” I expose myself too. Awareness is one thing, but stressing out over things I can do nothing about is a drain of both spirit and energy. Instead, I've been studying soil science and learning so many interesting things. That keeps my focus positive and productive in a way that I think honors the Lord.

  13. You are ahead of us so no plants started here yet. We have a solid chance of winter for another few weeks at least. Like you, we do what we can while this crazy ol' world spins round. Keep well and enjoy spring.

  14. I was so pleased to see this recent post. I'm glad you're still here in blog land. I'm so sorry for your losses for both One Stripe and for Pearl. Life with our fur-friends is never long enough. I'm coming up to the one year anniversary of losing my beloved golden retriever. So far, no replacement.My biggest upcoming life event is moving to California. I decided I needed to be closer to family and friends. And I already have a church and weekly Bible study to attend. I've been in the process of decluttering and sorting all the stuff that won't make the move. It's daunting but I'm sure this move is right.Praying for you and yours.SJ in Vancouver BC

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