It Hasn’t Even Snowed Yet…

2015june13garden7…and I’m thinking about spring gardening.  How about you?

While I’m harvesting seeds for next year, pulling out finished plants and even planting fall and winter tolerant vegetables, I’m also starting to think about the spring garden.  Fall is a great time to add compost and soil amendments while you let it rest until spring.  As your compost breaks down, it recharges the soil beneath it with minerals and microorganisms that works it’s way down.  If you till, fall is a great time to plant cover crops that will be tilled into your soil in the spring.   Radish is really popular here.  We were slowly working toward raised beds so that we wouldn’t need to till, but I am starting to consider permanent 30″ flat beds instead.  Still no tilling, but no wood frames to worry about.

Growing up I learned from my grandfather to cover the garden and perennial plants for winter.  For us this meant raking the fall leaves onto the garden and around perennials.  In the spring we would turn them over into the soil.   I still do this, except I am getting13-11-08snowaway from digging or tilling.  Using a mower will shred them nicely, and if you have a bagger you won’t need to rake them.  Some people will cover their gardens/beds with straw or wood chips, still there are some who actually use tarps or other weed barriers.   A little work in the fall will greatly impact your garden in the spring.

 

Fall is also a great time to plan for garden expansions.  Covering areas you want to expand with compost materials and a tarp over the winter will choke out the vegetation under it and make your spring work a little easier.  I have a couple areas I’m considering expanding so I want to get the materials ready.

One area some might forget is cleaning up and caring for your tools.  This might mean things like applying boiled linseed oil to wood handles, sharpening, sanding, oiling metals so they don’t rust.  In the spring they’ll be ready to go when you’re itching to get out into the garden.

IMG_20161230_085416Another great fall prep is writing your thoughts down about this season into your garden journal.  (Of course you have a garden journal…any notebook or notepad will do.)  Give a summary about how things went, what worked well and what didn’t, what improvements or plant varieties you might like to try, weather challenges you had, pest battles, you get the idea.  This are things you can use as you start planning and prepping for next years garden.

A bit of work in the fall will get my spring garden going much quicker when the weather breaks.  I can’t wait!

Job 37:9-10 From its chamber comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds. By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast.

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

Advertisements

5 Favorite YouTube Channels

youtubepage

I really love YouTube. So many times I’ve need to figure out something and there is always videos on YouTube that have answers.

While I have a channel on YouTube, I don’t use it to make and post my own videos anymore.  It just wasn’t something that works for me.  But I do follow quite a few amazing channels and thought I would share five of my favorites in no particular order or topic.

1. Darci Isabella – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3_A9yDRB1TMyah5CD0TfyQ

She is AMAZING and funny, and inspiring. She has a large family and minimalist lifestyle. As a hoarder (yes, I admit it) I soo, soo want to minimize and she has giving me lots of ideas and encouragement.

2. Townsends (James Townsend & Son)https://www.youtube.com/user/jastownsendandson

They are located near us and I first came across them at a local festival. While I’m not really into reenacting (although I could be persuaded!) I love all the recipes that are shared here, and have tried quiet a few of them. I also really like that videos are presented in 18th century costumes and settings.

3. Our Half Acre Homestead – https://www.youtube.com/user/TheMrsVolfie

Bev is so amazing and has so many helpful videos on all sorts of cooking, canning, crafting, and homesteading topics. She is very real and her videos are quite like you just popped in for a visit.

4. Appalachia’s Homestead with Patara – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXyRtDXzptYN56-UxNhYAbQ

I wish I could harness half her energy. lol I love her! Her channel is full of good and solid information on homesteading and raising animals and I’ve learned and applied so much from her on raising chickens.

5. Starry Hilder Off Grid Homestead – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqTGYxXH21MTYnMoOZGvX6A

While I have learned quite a bit from her, I admit that I just enjoy watching her. She is uplifting and encouraging, and I love seeing how well they live off grid and the beautiful scenery. If I were to live off grid, THIS would be how I would want it.

There you have it. It was hard to pick just five because there are so many great channels I enjoy including John Suscovich, Growning Your Greens, The Boss of the Swamp, One Yard Revolution, and one of my newest favorites Sounds Like Reign.

I hope you’ll check them out and let me know what you think. I’d also love to hear what some of your favorite YouTube channels are or even if you have your own channel, maybe it’ll become my new favorite!

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

Planning Long Term

grandma+grandpa.jpg

Grandma and Grandpa

I see a lot of people taking the plunge and moving to homesteads, going off grid, and generally moving to more sustainable, self sufficient living.  There are lots of benefits to these lifestyles that far out weigh the negative.

What some people don’t realize is that there can be a lot of hard work attached to these ways of living.  I wonder if these people who say they are in it for the long haul are just living day to day or are they really considering the long term?

My birthday is right around the corner.  It’s a big one.  A lot of the things we had hoped to do are starting to fade.  I am finding out now that my bad joint pain can be limiting.  The heat and humidity in the summer send my asthma into attacks.  While I consider myself in pretty good shape for approaching AARP age, I have to face the fact that I’m not a young anymore.  While I’m not yet out to pasture, now is the time to set things into motion that will make those years easier.

menscott

Me with Hubb

We actually started thinking about it when we bought our house 12 years ago.
While we didn’t mind having a basement, we wanted a ranch style home so that if this is our final home we won’t have to worry about getting around it when we’re older.  This was important because we had seen older family members who were having a hard time with stairs including one who fell down a flight of basement stairs.  If we move, we will again look for something that will take us comfortable into our older years.  So, while we don’t want to limit ourselves, we also don’t want to make things harder down the road.  It takes thoughtful planning.  Gardening, raising animals, caring for the home and property…how will you handle these things in your older years? For example:  chopping all your firewood by hand isn’t as easy at 70 years old as it is for a 40 year old.

20141028_081817I know many of us are optimistic about these things in our later years.  “Oh, we’ll manage.”  Will you?  Even the average American lifestyle is challenging to the aged.  I’m not aged (*sigh*) and I have a hard time opening jars and bottles due to the joint pain in my hands.  I wonder how this will effect my gardening and canning?  How will this effect my butchering meat?  How will this effect my crochet business?

Have you thought about it?  Now is the time to plan and put things into place for your lifestyle long term that will make your older years easier.  It’s much easier to do it now while you are able than to wait until the day you find you can’t.

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

Prepper? Homesteader? Survivalist? Other?

2016Aug25Chickens“You’re NOT a homesteader!!”

Yes, I’ve heard that and no, I’m not.  I don’t fit into the homesteader mold nor do I fit the prepper or survivalist molds either.

While many things I do are popular in these lifestyles, I don’t really fit the mold.  I have a totally different philosophy and goal than most others.

13-12-16slippers

Making slippers for Christmas gifts,  just like mama did.

I’ve always been on the frugal side.  Sometimes more frugal, sometimes less.  Much of what I do is just what I had learned growing up.  I’ve always been interested in the outdoors, gardening, camping, hiking, farming etc.  Growing up in the city didn’t give me many opportunities for them, but I really enjoyed any chance to be outside with nature and camping/hiking became and still is one of my favorite activities.

 

ggma

Celebrating my birthday with my great-grandmother…a homemade cake and homemade party hats.

I heartily understand the philosophy behind prepping and I agree with most of it.  I don’t feel like I need to live barricaded in militarized zone with 30 years of food and supplies put up in my hidden armored bunker.  If you do, that’s fine.  I do feel, however, that as the manager of my home I need to be as prepared as possible to care for my family in what ever situation comes our way.  We live in crazy, fragile times.  But I firmly believe that the extreme form of prepping goes against what the Bible teaches.  The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, to take care of the orphans and widows, feed the hungry, visit prisoners.  It doesn’t say only do these things when times are good and stop when “stuff” hits the fan.  I will do my best for my family, but together we serve God first.

13-10-14grapejam

Canning grape jam.

There are so many ideas of what a homesteader is. To some it’s living completely off grid and to others it is simply adopting a more self sufficient lifestyle where ever you might be at.  Living off the land is hard, hard work, but can also be rewarding.  We live in a small town on a small lot, and while I do a lot of things that homesteaders do, I wouldn’t classify myself as a homesteader.  But again, a lot of these things I do I learned growing up.  For example: I learned gardening…organic gardening…from my grandfather.  In the big city.  I learned to make things by hand from my mother and great-grandmother.   I learned to be frugal from my grandmother…like using old clothing (read: underwear) to mop the floors and putting left over bread that is starting to stale in the freezer to use in the future for stuffing.  When I moved out on my own, I appreciated the farmers market that was right across the street, and I found out first hand how practical being frugal was.

20140704_110600

The garden goes all the way to the wood fence.

All these things became very real for our family when my husband lost his job a while back.  This area of Indiana suffered a great blow with many automotive, trailer and RV manufacturers laying people off or closing.  Hubby’s company closed and sent the work elsewhere.  Not being burdened by lots of debt and having a well stocked pantry with a garden got us through the hard times when many others were going under.  Not only were we able to keep our heads above water, but we didn’t have to rely on any assistance, food or utility programs.  And even then, we were able to help out others when they needed it.  I’m not saying it didn’t hit us hard because it did.  Only now are we starting to get caught up on things that we had to put off during that time (like getting our roof fixed, replacing appliances that stopped working etc.)  But being frugal, prepared and doing as much with our land as we could, we made it through when many others didn’t.

20140721_084411

Curing onions in the garage.

So I guess you can classify me under what ever category you would like.  I’m not prepping for any zombie apocalypse, but for real life circumstances for my family and those around me.  I’m not living on an off grid homestead with livestock, but we are trying to live more sustainable where we are.  If you asked me what I would call it…I guess I would call it living Proverbs 31.  I’m a homemaker.  Regardless of what circumstances arise, my main responsibility is to God first, then my family and my home, and then helping others as I can.

What about you?  Do you fit the mold or are you an outlier like me?

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

Matthew 25:34-40 – Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Where has the time went?

13-11-08snow

Fall leaves by the garden a few years ago.

It’s the last day of September.  How can tomorrow be October?  I love fall, it is my favorite season, but it seems summer slipped by somehow.

It is a bit odd not to be harvesting from the garden.  We didn’t purposely leave it fallow, we really did intend to put in a great garden this year.  It just got put off by so many other things.  In the end, leaving it fallow isn’t a bad thing for the garden, but I do miss the fun of reaping the harvest of what we planted.  Now it needs to be cleaned up and prepped so that we can be ready for spring.

But we do have eggs.  Our three hens Marigold, Lucy, and Izzy are laying some beautiful eggs and they are such fun to have around.  It is time to start buttoning down the coop and run for winter and start making plans for what we need to do.  Since this is our first winter with chickens it will be a lot of trial and error for us.  I’d love to hear some winter tips from experienced chicken owners.

13-08-08harvest

One of our past harvests.

We might not have a harvest from our garden, but now that it is cooler I will still be doing a bunch of canning, freezing and dehydrating.  We can get some produce here locally (golly the prices have gone way up since last year!!) and we’ll be getting meat as we find some good deals.  Apples are in season so I want to start off with that, and I’ll see what deals I can find locally.  I also want to try using the apple scraps to make apple cider vinegar.  We’ll see.

The end of summer has brought a real struggle with my health.   I’ve been having a real battle with my asthma and all the medication that goes along with that really scares me.  Fall is always harder for me anyway because there is a lot of leaf burning around here and the smoke seems to hang in the air.  I really want to find some good ways to help my asthma that would reduce the medication or maybe even eliminate the need for it.  I can hope.  I have tried a lot of stuff but have never really seen any benefits.  The biggest thing I know I need to do is get back to eating healthy and avoiding foods I know do not help…like dairy and sugar.

6thgrade

Throwback, first day of 6th grade.

Homeschooling is also in full swing.  Hard to believe it is the last year.  Also hard to believe that we homeschooled 12 years.  Wasn’t always easy, but I would do it all over again.  It is going to be weird hanging up this chapter of our life and not homeschooling next year.  I also can’t wait to see what God has in store for our son as he moves on to college.

That is it for now, off to do some chores around the house.  Until next time, I hope you have a wonderful and blessed day!  Grace and peace….

And Now The Eggs

EggsLucy, our White Leghorn started laying last week.  This week Issy, our Isa Brown started laying.  Marigold, our Buff Orpington hasn’t started laying yet.  We’ve had a total of eleven eggs so far.  Sooo “egg”cited.  Ha!  I like having brown eggs, but I much prefer a variety…and that is what we are getting.   Pretty, don’t ya think?  They are so small.  Every day they get a little bigger though.  We are working to finish the coop so they can finally have an official home instead of a makeshift pen.

We started off with what we thought would be six hens.  I knew going into this that sexing chicks isn’t 100% exact unless they are sex links.  But when you spend the extra money to buy six pullet chicks instead of straight run, you don’t expect half of them to be roosters.  We bought two Rhode Island Reds, two Buff Orpingtons, a White Leghorn and an Isa Brown.  Both
Rhode Island Reds turned out to be roosters and one of the Buff Orpingtons turned out to be a rooster.  Living in town we can’t have FreezerCampone rooster let alone three.  So we had the hard task of butchering chickens for the first time.  It wasn’t easy.

Hubby and son are working on the chicken coop.  Because we live in town we wanted something nice that the neighbors wouldn’t necessarily see as an eyesore (which is why it
is taking longer.)  Hopefully that will be done soon.  We don’t have a lot of the common predators that chicken owners deal with.  Ours are roaming cats and dogs.  So we thought it best to make a coop with a run, and then once in a while let them out to
roam the yard when we can keep an eye on them.  My BarnQuiltcontribution to the chicken coop is a barn quilt of a chicken.  I finished it yesterday.  We are going to make one in a different pattern for over our garage.

So, that is it for now.  I’m off to get some laundry done.  Hope you have a wonderful and blessed day!  Grace and peace….