Homestead Update

July has been a real scorcher this year. I mean, to quote my husband, Blue blazes could take a lesson from East Tennessee’s July. We’ve not had a good (or any) rain in coming up on 3 weeks so everything is looking a little dried out and crispy. Which, while those qualities make for excellent bacon, it’s not my ideal for a garden.

The bulk of our attention has been given to the goats. I have not found anything quite so satisfying as milking a goat. Maybe harvesting potatoes, or putting jars of freshly canned green beans or fermented zucchini on the pantry shelves, but something about the instant gratification of the delicious milk they give us twice a day is just tops.

Canned green beans

They’ve been doing really well with out stake/ tethering system. Clearing out brambles and brush. They really love our wild black raspberry canes, and sassafrass saplings. In lieu of alfalfa, we’ve been giving them our kudzu “hay” and they ADORE it.

It’s actually helped to increase their milk yield. So if you are blessed with this “invasive” southern blanketing vine, I recommend “pasturing” your goats on it. I’ve read a couple articles on cutting and baling it, but we lack any heavy equipment so it would be all hand cut and dried. We’ll cross that bridge in another month or so.

I started some goat’s milk kefir 3 days ago and it is delightful. I had forgotten how much I liked it. I was hoping my grains hadn’t died sitting at the back of my refrigerator, and as the Good Lord would have it, they reactivated very quickly in the raw milk. Hooray!

Strained, rinsed reactivated kefir grains

My in-laws are with us this weekend and we have had fun spending time together. As my oldest says, “It’s fun being in a big family.” And I’m certainly glad he thinks so.

We’ve been keeping busy learning old-timey food preservation methods and recipes, reading good books, talking, and watching The Waltons.

My oldest 2 pitting cherries for drying

My husband and father-in-law have been re-doing the plumbing in the house. Glory, hallelujah, it is high time that happens and by God’s grace we have all we need to do it. I’m praying we can get the dish washer installed so that I earn back 2 hours per day to spend on something other than 3 meals worth of from-scratch meal dishes from 6 people.

Other than keeping the animals happy and watered, we’ve been indoors much of the time because of the excessive heat. Morning is usually when we play outside and the hot lethargic afternoons lend themselves to naps and reading.

Zonked out babies from a day in the July sun

I’m contemplating our autumn garden. Probably more greens, fall herbs, and some cruciferous veggies. I’m anxiously awaiting our tomato and pepper harvests as well as harvesting herbs for drying at the next full moon.

Mostly I’m just surprised at how quickly the seasons seem to be passing this year. Perhaps it is because our days have been full of babies and animals and gardens. Full though our lives may be, they’re brimming with joy and contentedness I feel like I’d been missing before. I thank God for teaching me gratitude and humility in this season of my life because it has made all the difference in the world in how I view each day; as a gift to be accepted and enjoyed.

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