Category Archives: Gardening & Nature

  • New year rambles, goals, pigs, writing, walking and more

    It’s January 2nd, 2016, er, .. I mean, 2017 and we’ve done so much already. I’m tired just thinking about it.
    But in a good way. In a “I’ve got my list, and I’m getting things done” kind of a way.

    Speaking of lists, in the back of my prayer journal this morning I made up a list of goals I’d like to accomplish each month. I’m not real big on ‘resolutions‘, but I’m very big on goals. Not just on New Year’s day though, all the time. I actually LOVE Monday’s even, for this very reason. Monday’s are a chance to start a whole new week with a whole new set of goals!

    This year I’ve decided to break up my big goals into smaller monthly goals, which are kind of like bite sized pieces. For example, I’ve been wanting to write a book for some time now.  Pretty much my whole life really. The type of book I would write was never totally clear in my mind. I knew it would either be nonfiction, or some time of ‘self help’ book, as that’s simply the way my brain tends to be geared. But I wasn’t totally set on exactly what. The past while an idea kind of fell into my lap, or maybe slapped me in the face would be more accurate, so I’m running with it, and my goal is to write a new chapter each month. By the end of the year, I will have at least 13 chapters (I’ve already written the first one) and this is a very realistic goal for me. I work a lot of hours with my two home businesses (HomesteadEmporium.com and doTERRA) so I feel I need to set small bite sized goals, rather than one big goal of simply – Write a Book.”

    My other goals are simple too, and designed to help me end the year off on a better, less rushed, slower pace of lifestyle than I normally tend to run at. I always AIM to live a slower paced life, but biting off more than I can chew causes a “rush hour”  panic much too often in my life. My whole list of monthly goals are:

    1 ~ Write one chapter each month
    2 ~ Make one homemade gift each month (these will most likely all be for Christmas, I never have enough time in the fall to finish them in time for Christmas!)
    3 ~ Sew myself one article of clothing each month (I have all the fabrics, and even the patterns, sitting here just waiting for me to finally sew for me!)
    4 ~ Learn how to cook/bake/create one new food each month (so much food stuffs that I want to learn, such as yogurt (made that today!), pasta, all types of breads, fermented foods, and foods from other countries, the list goes on and on…)
    5 ~ Walk 20 times each month (this is a big one for me, even though it’s the most simple! I LOVE being outside, yet if I don’t get out first thing in the morning, I tend to procrastinate and get busy with everything else. When I’m outside here on our prairie homestead, I honestly feel rejuvenated and refreshed every time. It always makes me feel a little like Eve in the garden of Eden. We are blessed with so much greenery, space, and even fruit trees and wildlife. I love walking, and talking with God. The gorgeous vast prairie views and silence are just the icing on the cake. When I spend too much time behind the sewing machine and not enough time outside, I feel it in my whole being. I must make walks a priority!)

    And that’s it, that’s my list. Pretty simple really. I think these bite sized chunks are doable. I know they are as long as I stick with them!

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    Below is a photo from my walk this afternoon (just 19 more walks to go this month! lol).
    It’s cold in them these here parts, I tell you!

    I do love these types of winter days though, when the skies are bright ice blue, the hoar frost is on the trees, and the snow sparkles like diamonds in the bright sunshine!

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    Before my walk I had been wrestling deer carcass in my freezer. I had to move it from one freezer to another, and it wasn’t co-operating…
    When you have many dogs (and cats, too many cats) and you let everyone know that you feed all those many dogs and cats a homemade raw food diet, you tend to have people offer you all sorts of things. Carcasses (is that even spelled correctly??) being one of those things. Deer, moose, antler, even a buffalo. We’ve dealt with them all. Not to mention the beef and pork bones we get on a yearly basis as well when it’s butchering time. One day we’ll do our own butchering, but that day will have to wait until hubby and I are not both working 50-60 hours a week.

    After my walk, and before I could make it back inside, I got coerced sidetracked into helping move pigs in the barn. We’re getting close to butcher time, and we’ve started breeding our sows, so it seems moving pigs from one pen to another is a weekly ordeal right now. Warmer weather would be nicer for this work, but you do what you have to do, when you have to do it. After getting coerced sidetracked from my leisurely stroll outside, into helping move pigs, I then was coerced sidetracked into pig poop scooping…

    By the time I got back into the house my legs and butt were numb… I had a numb bum…. yes, I said it. My kids will die of embarrassment now… we’ll call it payback.

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    Anywho… here’s the yogurt I made!
    For over 20 years I’ve been wanting to make yogurt. My mom made it when we were kids, and I’ve been wanting to make it ever since. I’ve tried different ways several times over the years, and never had success. The last time I tried about 18 months ago, I ended up with absolutely perfect… cottage cheese! Who knows what I did wrong each time. lol But this time, I used my brand new Instant Pot, and had success, finally! Here’s the recipe/instructions that I used: http://www.homemademommy.net/2016/02/how-to-make-homemade-yogurt-instant-pot.html

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    One last photo from my walk. It’s almost time for bed, I can hear it calling me now…

    How about you? Have you created any goals, or resolutions, for yourself this year? I’d love to hear about them!

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    Spring Time!

    Gardening season will soon be upon us!
    I feel the rush of spring heading towards me at full speed. So much to do, so little time!

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    For the love of homemade soups

    When I was first married, I was quite terrified of making soup. Can you believe that?
    My husband grew up living close to both sets of grandparents. I often heard his stories of his grandmothers wonderful homemade soups, her cookies, and not to mention her pies, which I have yet to master…

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    Planting season, part 1

    We finished planting the garden last week, so I thought I’d take a moment to write down all we’ve planted this year. To one who has no interest in gardening, this will seem long and boring. If you are learning about gardening, this may be of interest. This is just our 3rd year planting on the homestead and we are learning as we go.

  • It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Time to think about getting dirty!

    It’s that time of the year again!

    So many are saying winter is lasting too long and they can’t wait until it’s over. I say it’s going by much too fast! There’s so much to do before spring arrives!
    First and foremost on the agenda is planning and preparing for the garden!

  • 24 years, and ramblings from the homestead.

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    Today is our 24th Wedding Anniversary!
    For some reason I woke up fighting grumpiness though, so I told the kids we’d have only a partial school day today and they agreed to make dinner for hubby and I too. We’re not able to get out and do anything special since he’s on 12 hour night shifts at the moment.

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    We have a lot to get done, so we finished up school quickly. While I cleaned, the girls set to work on shucking our corn crop. It grew so much better this year!

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    Elsa had a sweet surprise this week.

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    When we first moved to our homestead late last spring, we saw an advertisement for a mama cat and some kittens. She was all black. Elsa wanted her because her black cat had died the previous fall. So we drove the 1.5 hours to go pick up her and her kittens. We would keep one kitten and our friend wanted the other two kittens.

    Elsa had Ceecee for about 3 months. We were told she had been burned by some teens as a kitten, but her fur had grown back nicely and only her tail showed any evidence of her sad story. Ceecee was a very friendly cat, and a good mom. However, she was scared of loud noises, and didn’t care much for the dogs. One night when our son lit a few small fireworks while family was visiting from the Netherlands, she got scared and ran away. We found her a few days later down the road at some grain bins.

    About a month later, July 2013, she disappeared again. We searched everywhere for her, but never found her. We were sure the coyotes must have gotten her.

    Two days ago Julia pulled me aside and said she was sure she caught a glimpse of a black cat that looked just like Ceecee, near the road by our driveway. We didn’t say anything to Elsa, because we were pretty sure there was just no way it really could have been Ceecee! She had disappeared 15 months ago! And, she really had only lived with us for a few months!

    If we told Elsa, she was sure to spend her days calling and searching, and we just didn’t want to get her hopes up.

    The next day I was filling up the sheeps water bucket when Julia called me from the horse paddock. She called, “Mom! You need to come here & see this!”

    Being the worry wort I am, I immediately started praying, “Dear God, don’t let it be a horse injury!” and headed over to see what Julia needed me to see.

    And there she was, holding Ceecee.

    Fifteen months after she left, she found her way back. Shorter frost bitten ears, and a great big pregnant belly.

    Anyone want a kitten in about 9 weeks?

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    Elsa couldn’t be happier!

  • Stretching the goods!

    Last fall I purchased a tiller at a farm auction for the hefty sum of 5 whole dollars. This past spring I decided to take it for a tune up before it was time to plant the garden.

    I had been given the name and number of a gentleman that our friends recommended. So I gave him a call and brought the tiller over.

    While there, him and his wife chatted up a storm with me about everything under the sun from my SUV & the best products to use to keep it running well, to farming, tractors, gardening to kittens, making buns, lard, and more. I love talking to farmers. There’s so much to learn from them!

    While we chatted about gardening, at one point the wife asked if I had ever had banana potatoes after I mentioned wanting to grow purple Russian potatoes this year. I told her I had never heard of them before!

    She quickly went into her home and brought out a handful of little yellow-ish potatoes for me. She said to cook them for dinner so our family could give them a try.

    I looked at the handful of potatoes, and told her we are a family of 7 and knowing how much my kids love potatoes and trying new foods, would it bother her if I planted her potatoes in my garden, instead of cooking them and having them fight over the small feast? That way we would have several meals of banana potatoes instead!

    She thought that was a great idea!

    When hubby planted all our potatoes, he planted her handful of banana potatoes.

    Yesterday we dug them all up!

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    Her gift of potatoes, stretched into FIVE gallons! Talk about stretching the goods!

    Sometime this week we will cook up a dish of banana potatoes and finally taste them after patiently waiting for over 6 months. I’d say that return was well worth the wait!

  • Reaping what you sow.

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    I’ll be totally honest, my girls do not really enjoy weeding in the garden.

    So…when I decided as part of their school year in the spring they would each grow their own fair sized garden plot start to finish, I expected them to complain!

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    Instead, they seemed excited!

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    It’ll be great in many ways for all of us. This years garden was overwhelming for me, I work full time hours plus homeschool, and the homestead. This will give about a third of my garden size over to them to care for.

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    In turn, they will be free to plant anything they would like, and watch it grow from seed to harvest! After that, preserving, cooking, and eating the foods they grow will also be a part of their learning process.

    I think they are excited for a few reasons, but one is that even though they don’t like weeding, they LOVE harvesting, and they realize the work really does lead to the reward.

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    Even though this is our 20th homeschool year, I can honestly say I’m as excited for this upcoming year as I was on our first year!
    We’re reaping what we’ve sown, in the garden and in our schooling too.

  • Notes from the garden.

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    Some photos from parts of the garden yesterday. Lots of beets, potatoes, and tomatoes. I’m not sure how many tomato plants we planted, but you can see the first two biggest rows here and we have four more rows growing in succession. Almost all are Roma’s, for sauces etc..

    The corn, peas, beans, pumpkins and carrots are also doing well but I’m not as happy with the melons as I just can not keep ahead of the weeds in that area this year.

    I’m pretty sure my peppers are all a no-go this time. I’m just not sure starting peppers or toms from seeds will ever work for me. Most of my toms that are doing well, are ones we bought as plants. Meanwhile, I spent hours and hours of my time, energy, and electricity for heat lamps, trying to grow them from seed since March! When I think about those hours turned into hours working in my business, it doesn’t equal up. I’m also not fond of gardening ‘indoors’, so my time could be much better spent in the early spring. I believe next year I will focus that time on increasing my products in business, to stock up items for the shops, in preparation of the busy planting and summer season!

    I totally failed at getting my salad greens planted. First we had all that rain and floods, then my tiller died. After that, I couldn’t seem to get the area designated for greens cleared of ALL the weeds that popped up from all that rain, long enough to plant the seeds!

    I’ve decided I’ll plant a select few in a large antique laundry tub I have, and save the rest of the seeds for next year.

    When I wander the garden this year(amidst all the horse flies and Mosquitos we have in an OVERABUNDANCE), if I look to all the enormous amounts of veggies that are doing so well, my heart swells and I feel so totally blessed. When I attempt to tackle the weeds that have completely overtaken other parts of the garden, I feel overwhelmed, and completely defeated.

    This year has been a real mix of extreme ups and downs.

    In the garden… and in our lives.

  • I’m hoping to get into a blogging groove…

    I probably shouldn’t even type that out, I’m likely to ‘jinx’ myself and forget all about blogging from here on out! Things have been relatively busy here on the homestead for the past while. Then again, when isn’t it? Between getting ready for spring and planting seeds in countless pots in hopes of not having to buy starter plants this year, to the regular work of the Homestead Emporium, to homeschooling 3 grade 10’s and every day life of cooking, cleaning, and caring for animals, I don’t doubt busy is the ‘normal’ for our family. 20140427-141830.jpg   This afternoon I spent 1.5 hours planting more seeds. So far I’ve learned that the Jalapeño pepper seeds grow wonderfully and easily. Onion seeds are either very difficult, or they simply hate me. Sweet peppers came up ‘ok’. Out of all the seeds I started, I have 6 healthy good sized seedlings. Giant peppers, I have four. Hmmm…. I guess we’ll be eating a lot of SPICEY foods this upcoming year. lol Good thing most of us like the spicy flavour of Jalapeño! I hope to make Jalapeño infused oil this year too, so I’ll need extras in case I goof up a few times. Or more. So far my asparagus seeds are not really showing any promise, but I have lots of seeds left and considering they take 2-3  years before we can eat any anyways, I’m not in a hurry. We’ll get there, sooner or later! I have 3 wonderberry trees/bushes/seedlings coming up already. I’m pleased about that. Growing veggies is one thing I expect to be able to do. Growing fruit, to me is a true added bonus. I found out today that you can grow elderberry here in Saskatchewan. If I can’t find any starters this year, I’ll definitely be looking for seeds to start my own next  year! My tomato plants are doing alright. They are a tad leggy but I’ve started some more seeds in hopes that all is not lost. My Dad’s tomatoes grow the best, followed by the Pearly Pinks, with the Amish Paste tomatoes coming up very poorly. That’s a disappointment since I want, and need, them the most. I started a bunch more today in a better starter soil. Hopefully they will come up better this time. I was leafing through all my seed packets today and realized quite a few seeds need to be planted 2-3 weeks before last frost… hmmm…. that would be a week or two from now. Considering we can barely get TO the garden due to snow, and on days like today, muck, things will need to warm up and dry up awfully quick for that to be happening any time soon. Knowing the incredible rush & hurry that occurs once spring planting season is upon us, and knowing that I was too late with about half my seeds last year, almost causes my heart to skip a beat thinking about the busyness that will soon be upon us! Homesteading isn’t easy, but I have to admit, that for the most part it’s quite pleasurable. The other week when the family was away and I was left to feed all the animals their mid-day meal, even though it was blustery outside, I found myself pausing as I pushed the wheelbarrow of hay and just gazing around in awe that all this is ours. That this is my life. Finally. I really don’t think the wonder of that will ever cease. 20140427-141843.jpg   On the Homestead the baby animals are growing well. Sadly, Cinder the pint sized lamb did not make it. She fought well for about a month and we had hoped perhaps she’d simply be a pint sized lamb for the rest of her life but she passed away in her sleep one night. She never did figure out how to eat, or even suck on a bottle, so it wasn’t really a surprise. We had been syringe feeding her every feeding since birth. She gained weight slowly but steadily, and always seemed happy, and definitely very sweet, but she just never thrived, and always only barely survived. Her brother and sister and then Millie, our first lamb, are all growing like weeds! They get to play outside daily now that the weather is warmer, and they love it. Millie is so happy to finally have playmates! She always tried hard to get her mama to play with her, jumping up on her back, bouncing all around her, but to no avail. Now she has two playmates as they all share the large stall together, and the outdoor pen. It won’t be long before it’s time to find new homes for the moms. Our ram has already found a new home with a great big family of girls. Shaylah was SO worried that he’d miss her, but seeing as he’s gone from having 2 girlfriends to about 100 times as many… I think he’ll survive. Thankfully Millie, his daughter, is just like him. Super friendly, learns fast, and is more of a pet then livestock, so Shaylah’s very happy about keeping her. Julia is raising her lambs to sell once they are older. Once they are sold, she says she’ll stick with horses and focus more on horse training and riding. Shaylah will be getting one or two Shetland lambs early summer, and will raise them, along with Millie, to be used for their wool from now on. She’s also got plans to make a small cart, which she intends on teaching Millie to pull. We’ll see how that goes! I think we’ll need to make a custom halter for her, since their wool tends to be pulled on when sheep pull carts. I’m pretty sure we can figure something out though, with a little creativity! As I keep writing I’m realzing I probably don’t blog a lot because it always takes me so long and I write too much. It’s a vicious cycle! One day I’ll learn how to write SHORT blog posts. Obviously not today though! Maybe I’ll try that tomorrow. 😉