Category Archives: The Homestead

  • A family that works together, stays strong.

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    There was something very surreal about scrambling together in the dark to find all the last garden goodies, by the light of the harvest moon last night!

    The three youngest girls especially enjoyed picking all their pumpkins this way, they thought it was ‘cool’ to hunt the pumpkins with the coyotes howling close by. Pieter found it fun to climb an apple tree in the dark and throw apples at his big brother who then put him in a hold and showed him who’s really ‘boss’.

    These are the moments that memories are made of. On a homestead, most of the best memories are made while ‘working’ together as a family.

    Remember that for YOUR family, even without a homestead.

    This is our first year with a ‘real’ homestead (and by prairie standards, it’s TINY!!!!) but this is most certainly not our first year doing homesteading type ‘work’ as a family because we’ve known all along that a family that works together, stays strong together.

    My best memories as a child were of our family working together. Building a home, or camping. Once our family kind of stopped working together because everyone was off on their own separate ways/lives, the very best memories seemed to fade. Life and stress got in the way.

    Take the time to MAKE those memories even after your kids are no longer little children!

    My older kids (22 & almost 20) sometimes wonder why I ‘organize’ things like potato picking, or hay time, etc. when all eight of us are home. It’s not easy to juggle with adult kids who have several outside-of-the-home jobs, but I do it because it’s so worth it! Wether they realize it or not, these will become the times they remember best!

    Now that we have Pieter here, it’s important for him to have some of these memories too! But its important for all six of our kids, and hubby and I too!

    Get to work as a family, and create some memories!

  • Apples, apples, every where!

    I first blogged about our use of apples three years ago here on the homestead. Back then I was working with tens of pounds of apples. Now, on our new homestead in the prairies we’re dealing with hundreds of pounds of apples. So many that I don’t have time to blog about it. lol So I’m reposting this old post today so those of you new to the homestead can see how we make applesauce, and other things apples! 🙂

  • Easy cherry pitter!

    The kids picked cherries for me this evening and I pitted them with ease!

    I made myself a cherry pitter out of an old small fork.

    I had seen a quick video on YouTube : http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LevzJ7X1A_Q&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DLevzJ7X1A_Q

    When I first watched the video, I thought, “How could that really even simplify pitting cherries? How much quicker could it actually be?”

    I mean really? Cherry pitting can’t be THAT hard.

    Well, I found out it’s not that hard, but it is a pain in the rear, and time consuming, with a knife! Not to mention messy!

    So I figured that I should spend a few moments of my time and make a cherry pitter, after trying to cut out about half a dozen cherries.

    So glad I did! The rest of the cherries took me about 3 minutes to pit! Way easy! And nicer looking finished results too, and no real mess!

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  • Sheep shearing on the homestead today.

    When we first brought our sheep home, we knew they would need to be shorn (is that how you say it? or is it sheared?) soon. I wasn’t really sure how, or what, we would do but figured that we’d some how figure it out. We always do!20130630-203727.jpgI couldn’t seem to find anyone local to help out, but that was really ok. We actually quite enjoy learning things and this was simply one more adventure to learn about!

    I set about trying to find some shears, and ended up having to order from the internet, and hoped they’d be good!
    Then I read lots, researched lots, and watched lots of videos of sheep shearing by hand. It’s pretty amazing how quickly some of these guys could do it. But that brought me to something I noticed. Every video I found had guys doing the shearing. I’m sure there must be other women out there shearing their sheep?

    I wasn’t too worried though because I knew I had my ‘crew’ here to help!20130630-203928.jpg

    We decided to start with the least ‘stubborn’ of our three adults. One of our mama sheep, Dolly. We set her on her behind as shown in all the books and videos, and sure enough, she sat fairly still. Not real happily, but fairly content. The girls helped to hold her up while I set to trimming!

    Once we got to a certain point in the shearing process, we’d lay them on their sides. We learned quickly that as long as their hooves were always kept up off the ground, they’d basically just stay and not try to fight us at all. I was surprised by how easy they were to handle.20130630-204144.jpg

    I realized pretty darn quickly that the shears I have are not the greatest, but ok. I also realized pretty quickly that there was no way I was going to be able to shear a sheep in 8 minutes or less, as they did in the videos. Ha!20130630-204235.jpg

    But I did realize that we could do this ourselves, and we’ll continue to do this! I was actually able to shear the entire sheep in one big fleece. I was sure we’d have to stop and start many times, possibly over many days, but after about an hour we had our first sheep done!20130630-204315.jpg

    The first sheep was a little rough going, she ended up with a nick in the skin, and a couple of grazed little spots from my inexperience with the shears. I felt so bad that she had to be my ‘guinea pig’ but she never even flinched through the whole process! What a good girl she was!

    I ended up with a grazed knee and wrist, due to flying hooves a couple of times she thought she could get up. So I guess we’ll call it even.

    The second sheep, our other mama, Molly, got away with just one nick. Hopefully when we tackle Wally tomorrow, the last sheep needing to be trimmed up, I’ll know better what I’m doing and he’ll get away without any nicks what so ever.20130630-204414.jpg

    The next big job to master, cleaning out the fleece from the sheep. We’ve already studied up about it, but now it’s time to actually try it. I had hoped to do it today but by the time we were done the two sheep, my back was telling me it was time to call it quits for the day! The fleece will have to wait!20130630-204454.jpgWhile we were shearing the sheep, hubby made a great dinner of homemade bbq’d burgers and I picked the very first ‘fruits’ of our labour from the garden. Lettuce for the burgers and a salad! I had my salad with fruit added. yum!

    If I get a chance, I’ll share some photos of the fleece washing process as we go! The fleece we have will be used by Shaylah (and anyone else in the family!) for her felted wool creations. One day we may just venture into some fiber dyeing and possible even spinning! I’ve always wanted a spinning wheel and I’m sure at least one of the girls would also love to try their hand at spinning their own wool!

    As I always say…

    Time is my only limit, my creativity is endless.

    There really isn’t enough time in a day to get done everything I’d love to do, and learn about. When I hear people say (or see them type on the net) “I’m bored.” I want to ask how that’s even possible?! There’s just too much to do to be bored in this life that we live!

  • Early garden harvest.

    It may not exactly be the harvest I’m waiting for…

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    But one thing I love about homesteading is that nothing goes to waste, not even the weeds I pick from my garden

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    The chickens, ducks, and guineas love the bounty of fresh greens and dirt!

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    And so do the sheep!

    And all was not lost for us humans today.

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    I was able to gather a pretty decent crop of rhubarb for us too!

  • Adoption update & Info

    If you are on our Facebook page, you may have seen some of this info already but I wanted to share more complete details here on the blog about our adoption process.

    We have a tentative move in date for our ‘new’ son set for mid July. We have some work to do beforehand here on the Homestead. As you know, our family has incurred the costs of moving three times this past year, including the big move all the way to the prairies of Saskatchewan! And we are still covering all the costs of our home back in BC since moving here to be together as a family again and close to my husbands work. We are finally settled into a home where we will stay, and this is where our adoptive son will join us. We never stopped moving ahead with the adoption process through all the chaos of this past year, because we know this boy is meant to be a part of our family! We were not willing to give up! He is worth it!

    However, there is a reality we are up against now. We are short one bedroom in this home. We have the space in our family room to build an extra bedroom, but it’s going to cost a fair bit due to the work needing to be done, and to do it properly, and safely.
    We need to completely replace the current window so it can open for a fire escape, (it’s a solid pane and may need to be made bigger). A proper wall needs to be put up and we need to put in a door.

    We are at a standstill as to what we can do financially at the moment, but this work needs to be done by the time he arrives. So we need to come up with the funds quickly, to get it done in time.

    Hubby already works all the over time he can, and I work more hours than I should, often late into the night, each and every week to cover extra gas and other extra costs associated with the adoption course two hours away these past months, on top of the bills of two homes etc.. So I thought about others who adopt, and the many families my husband and I have supported, and donated to, over the years, to ease the burden of others adoption costs. I realized maybe it’s time we stop trying to do this all on our own, and reach out to say, “Hey, it’s our turn, we are almost to the end, we could use some support now.”

    I don’t share this because I feel we are owed anything in return for the support we’ve given in the past, I share this because our future son is worth swallowing our pride so we can get this done, done on time, and get it done right! I also know what a blessing it’s been over the years to know we’ve helped others! Each time we see a photo of those adopted children we’ve contributed to, it is salve to our hearts! I know some of you feel the same way, and receive joy from helping in this way.

    Which brings me to my plan to get this done. I’m having a big stocking, with some auctions including items from others who have so very graciously donated to help! The stocking will be held at our hyenacart shop on Friday, June 14th.

    I’m mainly going to focus on special things I know you, my customers, would love to see. For example, often I’m asked if I would sell my dyed fabric. I never do, but decided I’ll dye a couple of special pieces and auction them. I’m going to create some special one of a kind packages. I’d love to hear more of what you’d like to see! I love to hear from you all and do my best to try to make your wishes come true, so I thought I’d start the ideas rolling! I’d like this to benefit our soon to be son and our family, but also bless you greatly too!

    Some of you have asked if you could help by simply donating funds, and I wasn’t sure how to go about collecting from you. I had a wonderful facebook friend from our page share info about an international fundraising website we might like to use for our adoption expenses. However, after looking into this option, and researching others past fundraisers, I’ve decided against this route. I’d like to share why.

    I’ve seen others who used fundraiser sites get ‘verbally’ ripped apart by naysayers/haters. We’ve decided we are simply going to work hard to put together an awesome stocking, and if
    people would like to support directly, because they feel led to do so, we are going to trust that you will take the extra few moments of time to email me for information on how to do so at homesteademporium@gmail.com
    Or if you use PayPal, you can simply send anything you like directly to that same email address.

    Adopting, and adding a 14 year old boy to our family is emotional enough, along with the difficulties our family has been through this past year. I just don’t think we could handle ANY haters/negative comments from people who don’t take the time to get to know us, at the moment.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to adoption there are plenty of people who like to think only people with a good amount of extra money should adopt. We know the truth is, only people who care enough to share their love, their family, their homes, and their lives, should adopt. How much money we have RIGHT NOW, is relative. Our family works hard to keep on keeping on. We have made it through a lot! It’s that same determination and willingness to keep our heads up, through these hard times, that made it possible for ALL of us to even consider adding to our family. We know this added expense for renovations that we just can’t really afford at the moment is a temporary financial difficulty, and we will get the work done one way or another. Extra work never stops us from anything worthwhile, and we know this adoption is worthwhile!

    If you would like to come alongside our family and support us, we truly appreciate it!

    And in reality, you’ve been helping all along! Every dollar made from the Homestead Emporium shops has always gone directly to support our family, including this adoption process! So even if you can’t give ‘extra’ help now, if you’ve ever purchased from our shop, or if you’ve ever shared our Facebook page, our blog, or website with your friends, you have already helped and ARE a part if this process, and a part of the Homestead Emporium family.

    And as always, for this we truly thank you and we pray you will be blessed in return!

    Again, the email to use to contact us about how to help, or to support us directly through paypal is homesteademporium@gmail.com

    *If sending directly via PayPal, please label it as ‘Adoption Support’ so we can keep all of these funds separate.

    The date of the Big Surprise Stocking is set for June 14th!
    We hope to see you there and please share on Facebook ect. once we begin advertising!

    I will also continue to post updates of the adoption progress here and on our Facebook page. Since our adoptive son is a part of the foster care system, I’m unable to share proper photos of him with our family publicly but once the adoption is finalized, you can be sure we will have some family photos to share at that time!! In the meantime, I’ve put together a couple of ‘collages’ that should be safe to share. Forgive the silly Groucho mask on the one. 😉

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  • Work weekend continues.

    Then we loaded them up and brought them home. Finally, all the work over the last days, and weeks, has been worth it and everyone is happily home!

  • Work weekend on the new homestead!

    This past weekend in Canada was a long weekend, and my husband happened to have the entire weekend off too! Well, off from his ‘day’ job, but certainly not off from working as we did more in this long weekend than he probably does while AT work!

    It is a real blessing to have a handy husband, and most of all, one who is willing to learn how to do just about anything in order to help his family!

  • Sheep, coming soon to our homestead!

    We’ve been on our new, our FINAL, homestead now for a couple of weeks and things are going well. We’ve (mostly Graydon and the three youngest) have been working hard outside getting things ready for the arrival of Shaylah’s sheep! It’s been a dream of hers for a very long time to have her own sheep.

  • Cats

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    Patches. My quiet companion this morning at 5:30 am.

    We’ve had her since birth. She is Alesia’s cat, Alesia was there with Patches’ mother when Patches was born almost 15 years ago. Alesia was just 7 at the time, & now Alesia is almost 22. Patches has been on a raw food diet for a good part of her life and has never had a need to visit a vet for any ailments.

    She became an indoor only cat when she was 9 or 10 because she would occasionally get lost. The last time it happened she was gone for weeks and came home weighing 5.5 pounds. She’s normally 10-12!

    I like Patches, but I’m not a real cat person. I’m much more a dog lover.

    There are barn cats on the property here, but they are completely feral, and that bothers me. I want to be able to catch them and see what their health is like. I caught one on camera once, and it looks healthy but I’d still like to be sure.

    Barn Kitty

    Barn Kitty

    So pretty with those bright orange eyes. They say calico’s are always girls, that’s what I’ve heard. So I expect this would be a girl. I’m really surprised we’ve found no kittens! Shaylah has been trying to catch the barn cats, with no luck so far. Not even with tempting food!

    I would have preferred to bring in at least one barn cat ourselves that’s friendly, but now I’m not sure it’d be a good idea if we can’t catch the others to check their health first! I wouldn’t want to spread anything from current cats, to new cats.

    On the prairie, barn cats are a definite must with any feed around! Mice are abundant, and I’ve heard rats can be too. Right now our barn is still in clean up mode as we prepare for sheep arriving this week but once they are here, we’ll need to stay on top of any unwanted visitors (rodents)!