Homestead Updates: Where have we been!?

Hello friends!!

Gosh it’s been a while. Let me share a bit about what we’ve been up to.

To start, my husband’s been training as a firefighter for the city! It was a job opportunity we prayed over for more than a year, and just when we thought God had closed a door, accepted that it was God’s will for us to find contentment where we were, and that maybe we had misunderstood His leading, my husband got a call from the chief, offering him the job! God is funny like that- He made sure he had our hearts before He gave us the thing we’d been asking Him for. That can merit an entire post of its own because there is a lot that goes with “fire life” and some of it parallels my experience as a US Marine wife, but that can wait.

We began our homeschooling year at the end of July. I took a month to ease us back into the learning routines, and after 4 weeks, we’d incorporated our full schedule…ish. We don’t start our weekly co-op until the end of this month, so that’s the last moving piece. I feel like we have a bit more of a rhythm going now though, and my husband has predictable days off at least for the next few months before he starts the 24 on/48 off. That should give us a chance to really settle in to our daily schedule and routines, and also give us a chance to have 2 consecutive days to work on things around the homestead.

Where do I even start with the homestead? It’s kinda like when you walk through the house after bedtime, and you wonder how your kids made such a tornado of a mess in the time from 4pm to bed time, when they were supposed to have been tidying up. It’s very unkempt. I have Virginia creeper taking over the front porch (which I’ve considered just leaving through fall because it does turn a lovely shade of orangey red) the grass needs mowed, the garden is just one solid mass of weeds, the trees need mulched and pruned, fallen trees need cut up – I just haven’t had the time or ability to get to it. I’m fairly certain riding the lawn mower or operating a brush cutter/weed whacker or chainsaw with a baby strapped to my body is probably a bad idea. So we have a LOT of work to get done before winter .. look at me- it’s August and I’m already talking about winter.

One of my biggest goals is to find all the tools we’ve had pilfered by children (in spite of having trained them that “if it’s not yours, don’t touch it.”) And have mysteriously vanished outside, blanketed beneath the overgrown greenery. That corresponds to cleaning out the garage, so that the found tools have a place to live. We semi started cleaning the garage last weekend… It’s gonna take more than one Saturday to get it done.

The goats… Have been an extra challenge this year. Right now we have 3 wethers, and 2 does, one of which we have not been able to get bred for the last 2 years. We had prayed about getting a buck this year, but decided against it for a number of reasons, the chief of which was the amount of “giddyap” that it’d take to get fences and shelters built. We just aren’t in a season with a 2 month old where I can help my husband with that. And I’m not confident in having a buck while my children are so small and immature – it strikes me as a safety hazard, especially when I have difficulty controlling our older doe, Honey, who is very precocious to say the least. We accidentally ran over a lead line with the lawnmower a couple weeks ago, so we have been leaning hard on the electric fence, which isn’t really conducive to kudzu pasturing. The stuff grows too fast, and the fence can’t get grounded properly, so it gets knocked down, and the goats step right over it… It’s a headache. But I WANT the goats on kudzu for it’s nutrition content before breeding season- especially Luna is struggling to put on weight after having her kids in May. I owe it to the fact that she’s not had twins before and it’s taking a lot out of her. I’ve increased her grain ration, and I’m trying to give her extra nutrition where I can. If anyone has tips and tricks to put weight on a doe, let me know in the comments!

I’m dealing with some abdominal separation postpartum that is causing me a bit of pain. That’s really slowed me down, and I refuse to take medication for it because 1) If I can’t feel pain, I push on and do work when I should be resting. 2) Pain is an indicator that I need to slow down. So, I’m treating it like a muscle injury, (because it is, although not athletic) and its just going to require some rehab.

All that to say, the 3rd installment of the Summer Workshop Series podcasts, Low-cost Livestock is delayed!! I plan to record this coming week and get it out by Friday, the 19th, God willing. Thanks for your patience!☺️

In some sad news, our Angora bunny, Maggie passed away on Wednesday morning. She wasn’t ill or anything, just died of old age I suppose (she was almost 8, with an average life expectancy of 10.) We noticed she wasn’t eating as much as usual, and we fed her one morning, I walked over to check on her, and noticed she was abnormally still…and in forever sleep mode. So we had to have a bunny funeral on Wednesday which derailed any and all other plans I had for the day. The kids have never lost a pet before. Livestock, we’re used to losing. But a pet is different. Everyone was fairly emotional.

That seems like a great segue into sharing that we processed our first silver fox meat rabbits! 🤦🏼‍♀️ What a gratifying experience to go from breeding all the way to the table with our own protein. It went well for a first experience, my husband did a great job. It was a solemn occasion, but my eyes remained dry. And I even enjoyed the meal. The children actually prefer rabbit to chicken!! They raved and asked for seconds. Unfortunately for them, it’s going to take more than one rabbit per dinner to feed my hungry mungries, so we’ve got another processing day set for a weekend soon. I actually froze the skin/pelt so that I can tan them once I have about a half dozen at a time.

Skillet roasted rabbit, with caramelized onions and mashed potatoes

Friday we scheduled a bulk cooking day to prep some “convenience” foods – muffins, waffles, bagels (Guys! I figured out spelt bagels!!)- Things that can be tossed in the freezer and pulled out on a grab and go basis.

Another batch of curtido fermenting

For an element of fun, I’ve been reading through some wartime cook books, so we tried one of those recipes.

There are some language/terminology differences that we learned and it ended up being more educational than I first thought.

We also talked about the necessity of certain ingredients and why things were made with substitutions in wartime because of rationing of various ingredients. Honestly, the wartime food guidelines are very eerily similar to a lot of the healthy diet guidelines that came up when I was in my late teens and early 20s and currently circulating… Almost as if my generation has been being conditioned for war our entire lives in the form of alternative “fad diets,” “meal subscription boxes” and “tiny houses”. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d begin to ponder the connection of explosions of food processing plants and mass deaths/culling of livestock with the possibility that it was done by the government in order to normalize the less aggressive forms of warfare as a means to minimize push-back against the implementation of a change in world-wide power structure, that begins with the control of the food supply. I’ll leave that for more intellectual philosophers to ponder.🤔

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