Homestead Update

Oh guys… I have so many 1/2 started posts… Truthfully, this is our busiest time of year between reviewing the kids’ lessons and prepping for new material, working out in the gardens, taking care of the animals– our days are full, but in a good way.I’ve actually contacted a landscaping contractor to come help with our front landscaping. It was overrun when we moved in nearly 4 years ago and with all the babies and animals and illnesses we’ve been through in that time, the neglect really shows.

So a lovely woman from our local landscape supply is coming to my rescue next Friday, to give me an estimate (and likely savings goal) and consult on what needs to be done to make it lush and beautiful, as it should be.

And because I’ve noticed how much BETTER I feel with a supply of fresh greens, I’ve decided that we need a cold frame… Or a hot bed… Really, the only difference is about an 8 inch thick layer of chicken manure, so either is fine. But I want a way to keep those minerals and vitamins in my system and available to my family through the winter. So I’m busy sketching out what that is going to look like and gathering up the materials from what we already have to work with around the homestead.

The goats are doing great! We’ve noticed they really love the sassafrass seedlings and tulip poplar so that’s what we’ve been giving them as “hay” along with all the kudzu they want. I have to say, I was extremely skeptical about the flavor of raw milk, especially raw goat milk. I assumed it was something I would have to “get used to” with time… But I can’t taste/smell a difference at all. Maybe slightly if the milk is older than a week, but on the whole, we tend to use it before that point. No goaty flavor at all! Thank God for guernsey goats. They’ve truly been a blessing. Not only for the milk production, companionship, entertainment, and land clearing, but the nutrition of their milk is outstanding. I haven’t felt this good (joints, GI tract, circulation, skin) in at least 2 years. Pregnancy takes its toll on the body, and I feel like I’m finally able to restore my health through nutrition.

Fun fact- goat milk is considerably higher in concentration of zinc and copper, so for those of you deficient in trace minerals, it’s something to consider. Also, probiotics of raw milk can’t be beat.

Kefir grains

I’ve made 3 batches of kefir and a batch of yogurt (I haven’t tasted the yogurt yet) and while it is time consuming to process everything, it’s the most fulfilling feeling to open the fridge and see nutrient dense dairy products that originated from my own backyard.My husband and his dad replumbed the whole house 2 weekends ago- kudos guys! Which is wonderful. But that means the water was shut off periodically for 3-4 days and the dishes mounted. I’m still working my way through those (I think they’re multiplying) and the kids have been gracious enough to help! Who doesn’t love playing with tubs of soapy water in the kitchen floor? I have to be more aware of “quality control” with some of the things they call “clean” but I enjoy the time we spend together accomplishing tasks without frustration or arguing, so it’s worth the water mess to get chores done.

Speaking of chores- we’ve been having great success with Chorepacks.In the last week, we’ve been able to breeze through morning chores in less than 30 minutes. That means all 3 kids have beds made, clothes on, dirties to the basket, teeth and hair brushed, animals fed and watered, toys picked up, and table set for breakfast by 7:00am. That. Is. HUGE!!! sure they sometimes fit and whine about it. But so does every kid. As we dicipline the whining out of them, it is steadily becoming easier and less dramatic every morning. And the chorepacks keep everyone accountable to their specific tasks and help us stay focused. Praise God for smoothing out our morning routine.

It’s really been a blessing also, to have those twice daily goat milkings with my husband. It’s a nice slow-burn into the day and it’s really sweet to be able to spend those first waking moments with him in the dark quiet of morning. And it’s a chance for us to talk over the events of the day in the evening. And gives is a chance to decompress while the kids do their evening free play.Yes, we’re mostly focused on the goats and brushing, milking, and feeding, but I consider it an increase in quality time, which I guess is good for him that I’m so low-maintenance in the date department. “Babe, let’s go milk the goats!”

Husband relaxing in the sensory swing

The gardens are getting what I call “midsummery.” We’re in between the early and late crop harvests and I’ve given up on pristine weed-free beds and settled for maintaining what I can in 20 minutes a day. Which is not a lot while wearing a baby and keeping one eye on 3 mischevious kids…I’m fairly sure they’ve eaten most of my cider apples.Anyway, the tomatoes will be ripening soon.The herbs will be ready to harvest at the full moon, and I’ve been getting a couple cucumbers each day for sour pickles.The flax has been harvested and we have evaluated our failures and successes and made note of what to do differently next year.I put away green bean seed and pea seed so far and there will be more seed saving to come as we move through the rest of this season. In the meantime, I’m looking for gift blessings for which to be thankful.

Surprise zinniasDayflowersBabies in sun hatsAnd pretend picnics and adventures on piles of free truckloads of woodchipsCrazy story, the wood chip truck actually got stuck in our yard overnight until they could get here the next morning and fix a tire.The kids thought that was pretty cool.

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