01 Jul

Berries, love and the good things….

Living on a farm has so many benefits, the list is long, the work is hard but at the end of the day when you settle into a chair you can smile and feel accompished.

Our homestead has the beautiful benefit of it’s own wild array of food we can get all summer long. The mulberry tree is still holding a bounty of fruit and makes a delicious pie as well as jelly. The crabapple tree, the wild fox grapes, the berries everywhere, we are so blessed to not have to buy these things from a store and wonder where it came from, I can pick it and eat it!

But last night the nicest spontaneous thing happened. My husband offered me a tractor ride around the property and then helped me pick a quart of fresh black and white rasberries. It was so special and made me feel like a kid again. It seems everything I do of late is that of yesteryear and has a memory attached to it.
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A humbling fact is that my hands appear to belong to a ten year old too. Dirt under my nails, no mani/pedi for this gal, stains from berries on my fingers, cuts and crud all around the pretty silver circle that means everything in the world to me.

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The sudden loss of a corporate job that keeps you so busy that you need coordinating calendars, underwear and shoes causes a bit of an identity crisis. Somewhere in the midst of the searching around this girl emerged who knew so much more than her corporate counterpart.

She knew that there is nothing better than walking into a house with something baking in the oven made you feel loved and warm,  she knew that being outside in the dirt cleared your head and made you sleep better, she knew that animals can teach you things about yourself you will never learn in school, she didn’t look in mirrors constantly, care about her hair or if things matched. Life was waiting outside the doors and she had a deep desire to taste it every day.

Can we say the same as we shuffle off to stuffy places and speniding our day among strangers in buildings across corporate America? I can say I did it, was very good at it, and it never made me happy… Being taken away from it by a body that was sick was a hard separation, I fought it. Six months down the road as I reinvent the wheel, search my soul and ask God to hold my hand as I take the next step, and I am somehow smarter than the corporate girl I was.

Coming back to who I was before the world dominated how I viewed myself is a sweet homecoming. The rasberry stains are the map on my hands that I follow, they take my mind back to a place where things were simpler.  I may have lost a huge salary but I gained so much more, I may have lost an able body but I now do what is important and know how to ask for help. I lost a huge amount of people who knew my name and face, but today I know who my friends are and have re-connected with the love of my life.

The job and the stress pulled me so far away, I disconnected with my body, it kept on asking me to slow down, telling me it was tired but I listened to the deadlines on my calendar. When it all screeched to a halt I was angry, how dare you fail me body! The outrage of taking me out of my stylish heels and leaving me crumpled on the couch like a deflated bag of air. I cried, I lamented, I reasoned with myself, what would I do, where will I end up, what will happen?

Well, the world did not crumble, I learned, I took little steps, one day at a time and am still here to talk about it.
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Yesterday on the tractor ride to the fields, I realized I had not looked in a mirror all day, had dirt on my clothes and was happier than I have ever been. Sitting on the wheel hub beside my best friend who smiles at me and feels just the same. Does it get any better? The dog tumbles up the road behind us and his smile tells me he gets it too.

Spending our evening walking hand in hand, bucket of berries draped over my arm, the crickets sang us a song …

Okay I am not ten anymore, but the older I get the closer I get to being that girl again and I think going back to being her is the key to my happiness. I am daily juggling issues, how to survive on one income, how to create a meal on what is in the house, keeping us warm, dry, clean, managing the resources we have at hand.

Yet I am happier than I have ever been! I am married to the sweetest man whose arms are the only home I ever need, he is my best friend, my cheerleader and knows how to put a smile on my face. He cooks alongside me and knows where the good berry bushes are too! My wardrobe is one of what slips on easily and is comfortable, it doesn’t have to match. My horse gives the nicest hugs and kisses and never tells tales about me, my dog is the coolest dog in the world and makes me laugh, my son, daughter and grandson make my heart grow bigger every day. My garden is my favorite place to walk and hot showers and bedtime are 2 of my favorite things. Stuff and shopping could not interest me less…give me my farm, give me the sanity and I can do anything.

My body will heal alongside of my spirit that is healing too.

In honor of our date I made a custard…

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Crustless Raspberry Custard Pie
1/2 cup all purpose flour (I used a non GMO, organic flour)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar ( I used raw honey)
2 large eggs (from my hens)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt (pref. greek-style)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
12-oz fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, yogurt, vanilla and almond extract until very smooth. Add in flour mixture and whisk to combine.
Add raspberries into filling mixture and gently stir to coat. Pour into prepared pie plate, shifting raspberries around with a spoon or spatula to evenly distribute them in the pie.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until custard is set and a knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean.
Allow to cool before slicing and serving.

Serves 8.

Happy eating and blessings to your home…

Featured at the Homestead Bloggers Network

27 Jun

DIY and more Good Ideas

Over the years while trying to save money and eliminate toxins from our home I have developed quite a library of recipes of things to make yourself. This does not take a lot of time and allows you to control ingredients. With the help of the EWG and their Skin Deep page I have learned what we put on our skin is just as important as what we eat. Check their page to learn more about this and why it is so important http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/.

Cost was a big factor for me too, when I lost my job due to an chronic illness we were suddenly thrust into a one income scenario. Little did I know we’d eat better, use better products, and grow closer as a family as a result. God has a lovely way of taking what we dread and fear and turning it into something beautiful and I am so glad he does.
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I thought I’d share some of my frugal recipes on DIY products that I have collected. Your reasons for pursuing may be different from mine but that doesn’t matter. We are all sisters of the heart as women and if I can empower only one of you to take a Sunday afternoon and craft a product you are proud of and find useful then I feel I have done a good thing. My goal is to help you all find a better, safer and sustainable way to still have the things we pamper ourselves with and clean our homes with.

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Glass Cleaner

1 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol

2 1/2 cups distilled water (hint I keep a jug under my sink and every time I boil the kettle and have extra, in it goes for my recipes)

1/8 tsp. 7th generation dish soap

Mix in sprayer (please recycle one) Easy!

 

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Deodorant

6 tbsp. coconut oil

1/4 cup baking soda (make sure there is no aluminum in it)

1/4 organic cornstarch or arrowroot powder

a few drops essential oil scent of your choice

Mix powder with baking soda and ash into coconut oil until blended. Mix in the oil and store in an airtight jar.

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Homemade Acne Astringent

2 cups organic witch hazel
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bundle of fresh thyme leaves and flowers

Optional: 2 drops of tea tree, thyme or peppermint essential oil

Pack a  jar with fresh Thyme, pour in witch hazel to fill, shake well and place in sunny window to brew of 4 weeks. Strain, add oils, shake and use….ta da…later zits!

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Hand Soap

In 18 oz. pump container, please recycle one, opt for a foaming one for foam soap~

Add 2 tbsp, Dr Bronner’s Organic Castile Soap ( I prefer the Almond)

fill with water, turn bottle to mix and use, no antibacterial garbage in this, all organic!

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Antibacterial Wipes

I reuse my 7th generation tub for this, I have to open it to get the wipes but that doesn’t bug me, the mouth is wide, no worries~

Cut a roll of paper towels in half and remove roll, place in tub

In a bowl mix 3/4 cup distilled water

3/4 cup distilled vinegar

15 drops lemongrass essential oil

8 drops of lavender essential oil

4 drops of bergamot essential oil

Pour solution over the wipes and make sure it distributes  on them to saturate them, HINT: you may need to make additional solution for more absorbent kinds. I am going to try to add hydrogen peroxide to mine just to add an anti bacterial quality to it.

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Dusting Spray

1/3 cup distilled water

1/2 tbsp Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap (Almond or Citrus would do)

8 drops orange essential oil

4 drops cedarwood essential oil

4 drops lemon essential oil

Mix in 4 oz. spray and use

HINT: Add 1/2 tsp of olive or help oil to make a polish

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Citronella Candles

1 pound of tallow

2 oz. beeswax

1/5 oz of a mix of essential oils, citronella, eucalyptus, lemongrass and cedarwood.

Melt together on low heat and pour over wicks in small recycles glass jars

I have saved a collection over the years of little pots that other candles came in, I will reuse them!

Last one I promise but it’s the most important one….

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Tick Repellent

4 to 5 oz spray bottle

Mix 4 oz. distilled water

20 drops in lemongrass essential oil

20 drops eucalyptus essential oil

Safe for humans and pets, use liberally….Lyme disease is real, it hurts and is hard to find help for, trust me, I know, I live every day with this reality.

My usual is to reserve a day of the week to play mix-master and whip up the things we use. There is an initial investment in obtaining a good collection of essential oils but it it well worth it. Nature is amazing and the smells don’t burn, won’t kill you and leave you feeling pretty doggone smart.

Sending blessings your way…..

 

 

Featured at the Homestead Bloggers Network

 

07 Jun

The Journey to my Homestead

The journey to my homestead was a return to my roots. I was brought up in the seventies in a no nonsense family with parents who were older than my peers. They had me at the age of 44 and were each born in 1924, lived through the depression and were farmers and knew a lot about surviving crisis and being frugal.

I was raised on yard and rummage sale clothes, dirt, fresh veggies, our own meat, home cooked meals and lots and lots of love and real things. I never thought I was missing a thing, it was a time of bliss and my favorite memories are from that time in my life. I can recall my mom making pancakes for supper when money was tight, we thought this was awesome. I would sit in the kitchen and watch her with her magic wand (wooden spoon) creating beautiful things. I’d lay on our big fat radiator and the cozy warm feelings are still what I crave.

Our TV blew up in a lightening storm and after that we had a lot more fun. I remember my dad saying firmly, “I’m not buying another one” and we went on with life, no tears, no wails of pain. We lived on a farm and there was a lot to be done anyway.

I was in the barn, in the field, with the animals and trees and always hot on the heels of my wonderful father. He taught me the value of rising early finding dew on the grass and treasures in the garden. I still like morning the best, it is fresh, real and a new start. I get up first in my house and know that the most valuable time is in the quieter hours.
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Unfortunately I grew up and moved onto the 80’s a period that I still view as confusing and hellish. I detest the music, the clothes and avoid it at all cost. It was when plastic and McDonalds entered my life and bad habits began. Thankfully that was short lived and I have found what I loved so much again, just older and wiser now. Back in the barn, the dirt and the garden…my thinking spot.

Our farm is a work in progress…I began canning and freezing for the winter months and have a long want list or honey do list, however you want to look at it. A cold cellar or a cold tunnel would be so helpful, you can extend the life of your root veggies in many ways. One project that will get done before the harvest this year.

http:/www.survival-spot.com/survival-blog/build-root-cellar/

We have been planting our own berry bushes, fruit trees and established an asparagus bed this past year that is coming along nicely. The garden is full already and I’m out of space so we cultivated an area up on our upper plot of land and have the corn, potatoes, carrots, pumpkins and squashes there. My son landed a deal on a plow and a disc for $40.00 that made the job much easier.

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Our compost system is one of 3 parts, this is so that there is an area for manure to cure and the chickens clean the seeds out of it and the other two hold last seasons and the current dumping area. Making sure to cure compost piles is the best way to allow nutrient dense material to build up. This is the fertilizer we use, no need to buy it and this is way better.

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My clever husband harvests lumber from public sales and even what washed up onto our property during the last flood to build things, He crafted this strawberry planter for me so that fresh strawberries are part of our diet. WE also planted grapes this year and he created an arbor for them out of scraps.

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I planted my own herbs in pots, they look so pretty at the pump!

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We had an Amish friend run water lines from our house to the barn last year after we dug the trench, no small task! This makes life so much easier! We can now water the garden and livestock with no issues. Even in winter, it is a no freeze pump that runs in zero degrees. The clever man also created a hose reel out of an old tire rim that was laying around.

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The other gardens are full too and give me fresh greens for salad and juicing my way back to health.

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The work is never done and thankfully we have scaled back our lifestyle drastically over the years. We save money by vacationing on day trips, growing and preserving our own food and raising our own eggs and are working toward our own meat. We live simply, pray daily and stop and smell the roses….

I stand back at look at it all and know that my dad would be proud. He’d know that all those hours stringing fence, shoveling manure, picking rocks and pulling weeds were golden moments that created a longing in me for more.

I am home….

 

Featured at the Homestead Bloggers Network

02 Jun

Miracle the Hen

So I was feeling like a story was in order since I introduced you to our farm.

This is the story of Miracle the Hen, brought from deaths doorstep to a place of freedom.

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Here is Miracle, you may say okay, it’s a chicken, but wait, she has an important message. When you look at Miracle you see her bright red comb, her shaved beak and bright eyes, she’s pretty despite being maimed, let’s hear her story.

Miracle was hatched in an incubator, she never knew the warmth of her mothers wing. She was hatched for a purpose, so early on her beak was seared off with a hot cauterizing device. She came to the house she lived in as a young pullet, she lived in a crate with 7 other hens just like her. They were wing to wing and beak to beak, in tight quarters, her beak was shaved so they can’t peck each other in frustration. She lived on the top rack, there were 4 more rows of cages just like hers underneath her. She was lucky on the top, that meant the excrement of the other birds was not falling on her and into her food. She was cleaner than her friends below her and the person giving her away said she had a good spot.

Her life was a day to day process of automated lights to wake her up to initiate her egg laying and every day the same. The chickens around her would die sometimes, the congestion and crowding is not healthy and they just were not strong enough. She sat in her cage, day after day with scarcely enough room to move. She was nameless and nothing but a part of a production machine.

The day came for the huge henhouse to be emptied, trucks would come and take them all out in cages, truck them away to be killed and put into canned soup. That was the summary of her life, live, lay eggs and die only to become soup.

Then a boy came into her world, he was interested in battery hens as they are called and said he thought they weren’t just soup, he could love them.

Miracle and her cage-mates were loaded into a cage and put into the back of a pickup truck, they would not be soup today…

That boy was my kind, wonderful son who is passionate about his chickens and knew about what happens to these birds.

When we brought Miracle and her pals home I turned to look at them riding in the back of the truck. I remember thinking to myself, this is the first fresh air they have had, the first sunlight in ages maybe the first ever… They crouched together like white scrawny ghosts ion the corner for the rest of the ride.

We gave  them a  few days to settle in and on a bright sunny day we ushered them into the bright April sun. They had no idea what to do, they walked in the grass like it was frightening them, picking their feet up so high. We were amazed at how foreign the outside world was to them, it was sad, we had chickens who did not act like chickens.

One night we blended them into my son’s flock of well established bossy mama’s as he calls them. They were let out with everyone else and as the girls around them pecked the dirt, ate bugs, scratched and dusted they were lost, they stood around and watched.They looked so odd, with their pale pink combs and skinny bodies in comparison with fat healthy hens that were colorful and strong.
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In a few weeks they gradually adjusted, were ready to go out in the morning and greet the day. Before too long they were pecking, scratching and joining into the crazy madness that is our barnyard.

That was 2 years ago….these hens have been consistent egg layers for us, they were no spent hens. They have such personality and recently have developed a new hobby. They and Fabio the Rooster along with 2 exotic banties are the Poo Crew that follows lady the horse.

They know no boundaries and fences will not hold them, I noticed this year they are always in the horse pasture and all over the yard. I joked to my husband they they were liberated and no cage would ever hold them down.

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When I look at Miracle and her friends now I see girls who boss the big hens back, they decided how they would live and it would be free.

This is not the end of the story though, what can you do to help these kind of birds? Demand farm fresh eggs from hens that are healthy and happy. Not the chalky things that look like eggs from the store, you now know where the eggs came from. They taste better, are better for you and are more nutritious. Care about the sources of your food and know that many homesteads like mine often have extra eggs that they will sell to you.

If you have the option to get birds, consider rescuing these kind of birds, they have so much life left to live and will give so much back to you in return.

Featured at the Homestead Bloggers Network