Homesteading on a Budget -aren’t we all?

(I’m pretty lucky to have that real, live garden fairy!)

You can’t argue the fact that homesteading is an expensive endeavor.  We are homesteaders on a budgets, so we are very careful as to where we put our dollars.

Sometimes, it’s money invested with a quick foreseeable return, mainly in the form of food, which translates to a lower grocery bill.  This reason, paired with my impatience, is what made us decide to buy laying hens instead of young chicks when we first started out.

Other times, it’s putting off particular non-pressing projects while we wait for a good deal to come our way.

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Recently, we were able to expand and mulch our strawberry patch for nothing more than an investment of our time and energy.  There are a few perennials that lend themselves to becoming an overgrown nuisance and the gardener is more than happy to pass their surplus off to someone else.  Last fall, we were given a couple large flats of strawberry shoots from an acquaintances whose garden was being overrun.  We were happy to start a small patch with these beautiful berry plants!

The other day, Andrew came home with three more flats, filled with strawberry plants from his dad’s garden.  We got them in the ground as soon as we could and ended up nearly doubling the size of our strawberry patch!

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We then heavily mulched the entire patch, with mulch from our Mulch Mountain.  Occasionally, the county trucks come through to trim trees back from the roads.  Andrew has flagged them down a couple of times, offering a spot for them to dump their full trucks.  For the workers, this saves them from running all the way back to the county dumping spot. For us, it’s free mulch!

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Chatting with like-minded homesteaders, befriending those in the community, and just “putting your feelers out” can lead to all kinds of cost cutting benefits as you start your homestead.  And always remember to share the fruits of your own labors with others!

Kid Friendly Gardening

I’ve always heard that radishes are one of the best vegetables to grow with kids, but I’ve never actually tried growing them until this year.

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They grow super fast and peak out of the soil surface when they’re about ready to be harvested.  We planted these radishes about two and a half weeks ago.  Admittedly, they could have grown a bit longer, but we were impatient!

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The girls were thrilled to check the plants and find the little red domes peaking out.  I was standing by with a packet of seeds, so as a radish was popped out of the ground, a new seed was planted in its place.

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It’s too bad that radishes don’t taste better than they do!  The girls were eager to take a nibble, but no one was thrilled enough to finish one.

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Kateri forgot to clean hers off first.

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St Isidore the Farmer

The bulk of this entry was originally posted on May 15, 2008, but it’s worth a reprint! 

Today is the Feast of St Isidore the Farmer — what a wonderful Saint for us to emulate. He didn’t do anything grandiose or even all that notable. He was just an  honest, hard working man who loved God above all else. The legend surrounding him tell how he would go to Mass each morning before he began his work in the fields. One morning he was running late and the other farm hands were angry. When they went to fields to confront him, he was working away, surrounded by angelic helpers.

St Isidore is a special Saint to our family because my grandfather was not only named Isidore, but he was also a farmer. I always imagine St. Izzy plowing the fields with mules as my grandpa once did, although I am sure farming in twelfth century Spain was much different than early twentieth century America!

Another great legend surrounding St. Isidore is that one day he was returning from the fields with sacks of corn. He looked up into a tree to find hungry birds unable to find food. Having pity on the poor birds, he poured out a bag of corn for them. When he returned to the other farm hands, they were astonished to find that the corn bags were entirely filled and when ground, the corn produced twice as much meal as the rest.

And here is a photo of my other favorite Izzy, pitching horseshoes on his farm. My sources tell me that it was taken in the late 1950’s.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
And lastly, our other favorite Izzy.  Wasn’t she cute?

God, through the intercession of St. Isidore, the holy Farmer, grant that we may overcome all feelings of pride. May we always serve You with that humility which pleases You, through his merits and example.

Let’s All Just Stop Whining.

Social media is ripe with complaining.  It just seems to breed whine. I have seen so many stay at home mamas complaining about their husbands lately and this is a wifely trait that I’ve never understood.

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Slipping in to First Communion at the very last minute, as he’d been working that morning.

I know that the stay at home life isn’t easy.  That’s a given.  You work all day and little people certainly don’t appreciate the clean toilet or the fresh laundry (unless somethings still in the washer…then they notice!), more often than not someone turns his nose at the hot meal you put on the dinner table, and heaven forbid you choose to use the bathroom when he’s just ready to dictate every. single. detail. of the Harry Potter book his is reading.

I think every stay at home mama is jealous of her husband’s job at some point.  We hear about a lunch in a restaurant and NO ONE SPILLED HIS MILK or the coffee with co-workers in which not a one asked him to take him potty.  Oh the joy!

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But do we ever stop to think that the reason we can stay home with these sweet, sticky, noisy babies is because he works so hard?  Yesterday, it was pouring rain when Andrew left for work.  He’d already fixed my coffee, fed all of the animals, and helped kids get ready for school.  He ran through the rain to his car and had an hours drive ahead of him before he got to his meeting.

I was still in my jammies, hot coffee in hand.

It must be stressful to have the weight of the financial success of an entire household of people on your own shoulders.  It must be stressful to work all day and then come home to a wife who complains about the stay-at-home day you’ve gifted her.  I’m not saying don’t share your troubles.  It’s a hard gig!  But maybe we could all curb the whining?  Just a bit.

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Gratefulness breeds joy.  And I’m betting most of us don’t take the time to say thank you to the man who leaves his home every morning, so we can stay.

 

 

Around the Homestead

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(The girls are painted with blood root war paint!)

This could be alternately titled “Mama Wants to Play with Her New Camera Lens“.  Mother’s Day was crazy, with six kids, commencement at the college where Andrew works, and two First Holy Communions.  But!  I still received the new lens that I’ve been pining after, so that was a sweet little bonus.

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This flat of beans is being grown so we can snip the sprouts and add them to salads!

It’s been raining nearly non-stop for the last week or so.  It is pretty awful for the mood of someone who just wants to be out in the sunshine, but it’s a happy situation for the plants, so I’ll try to have a better outlook!

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It’s funny, we tend and toil for our gardens, but in the end, it’s the seed, the earth, the rain, and the sunshine that do the real work!

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I took a stroll around during a brief rain hiatus this afternoon.  The tomatoes and borage, lettuce and root crops, peas and beans all seem to be doing well.

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Our blueberry bushes are happy, too.  They’re filled with blossoms and I even found a volunteer blueberry at the base of a nearby tree.  I didn’t really realize that a blueberry could volunteer!  But this little bush has blossoms, too.

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These dwarf sunflowers are being grown in an old, rusty roasting pan that Andrew scooped out of the river and presented to me, proudly.  “This will make a GREAT planter!”  (Pro tip: marry the guy who indulges your crazy!)

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And pigs!  The pigs arrived a week or so ago and are cute as can be.  We are excited to be supplementing our pigs with spent beer grains from our local micro-brewery this year.

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What’s better than beer bacon??  Pretty much nothing.

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Kateri Lilyana – a birth story three years late

Our sweet Kateri turns three today!  I thought I would share the crazy that is her birthstory, since it is a key part of what brought us to our new home and wild homesteading life.

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We’d had our house on the market for the last couple of months of my pregnancy.  It’s pretty crazy being pregnant, having five other kids, and showing your house.  We had a very promising showing scheduled for a Friday, but when I woke up at dawn that morning, I knew we’d also be meeting our baby that day.

Did I mention we were planning a homebirth?

As someone who generally has five hour start-to-finish labors, I wasn’t sure what to do.  Have the baby before the showing?  During?  Would a laboring woman in the bathroom deter the potential buyers??  Some how stay labor until afterwards?

I guess you could say I chose the latter.

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We cleaned that house like crazy people in labor.  Then we left, so the house could be shown.  We ran a couple quick errands (to a gun store?  why??) and then I decided that I just couldn’t be out in the world anymore, so I broke into my neighbors house to hang out there for a bit.  Good thing we love them.  And that they were out of town at the time.

Andrew dropped the kids at my parents house, came back to our neighborhood, and we scooted back to the house as soon as my spy-eyes saw that the showing was over.  I hurriedly called my midwives and they managed to get there about thirty seconds before Kateri Lilyana arrived.

Needless to say, after our realtor relayed that story, we got an offer on the house.

But, I can’t leave out the part about her name!  We knew early in the pregnancy that we wanted to name her Kateri, but her middle name eluded us for a long time.

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She was born on Friday and still middle-nameless on Sunday (and we were still offer-less on the house).  At Mass that Sunday morning, the name “Lilyana” popped into my head.  “Lily”, like the symbol of St Joseph, patron to whom we’d be begging the sale of our house!  (We already had a Josephine, since we’d also been trying to sell the house when Avila was born.  Come on, St. Joe!  Help us out!)  St. Kateri is also known as the “Lily of the Mohawk” so the name was perfect.  She became “Kateri Lilyana” that Sunday morning and we signed the offer on the house that afternoon.

Thank you, dear St. Joseph!

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It would still be over eleven months before we found our home and land, but I really think St. Joseph AND St. Kateri, patroness of the environment (earth/land), have been helping us through this whole adventure.

Happy birthday, dear Kateri Lilyana!  You continue to add adventure to our everyday.