Tag Archives: Homestead

Garden 2017 Update June

 

This is part of my Garden 2017 series of posts.  You can see the earlier posts at:

Garden 2017 Update February Through May

Garden 2017 Aquaponics

Garden 2017 A New Beginning

 

June 2017

After tons of rain, the garden (plants and weeds) is growing like CRAZY!  The plants put on tons of growth and blossoms.  Some flowers are missing their petals and are leaning over due to too much rain.

However, many of the garden plants are finally producing fruits and vegetables!

We have two garden beds, plus a few planters growing produce and flowers. Garden Bed A is 12 x 16. We planted it with the square foot method of intense planting. It grew like crazy with all the rain. We need to tweak how we plant this garden bed next year. Though I am thankful for the abundance, we are not able to de-weed it at this stage and it looks like a mess.

Garden Bed A: Harvesting Green Beans!

The garden has been invaded by Japanese Beetle Bugs. They are quickly devouring the bean leaves.

The cucumbers have taken over the lavender. The lavender is in bloom too.

Harvesting cucumbers and green beans.

Bountiful harvest of green and yellow beans.

Dalia starting to bloom.

We often remove old blooms from petunias and they continue to produce beautiful flowers with bright colors.

Carrot tops are growing nicely.

We have had an abundance of leaf lettuce.  We had a lot of rain and the lettuce seemed to really appreciate it.

Marigolds are in bloom.

Removing dead blooms from the geraniums will encourage new blooms.

Hanging basket with leaf lettuce.

This basked of lettuce has produced several harvests already.

Heirloom tomato plants.

I started several more heirloom tomato plants in milk jugs.  Milk jugs are like mini greenhouses and it is a great way to start seedlings.

Petunias in barrel planters.

Garden Bed A: Small spinach patch is going to seed.

The spinach has produced an abundance and I have harvested it daily for several months.

Sweet potato vines and romaine lettuce growing in the aquaponics barrel. The romaine lettuce is about to go to seed.  It has produced a lot of lettuce since we transplanted them months ago from lettuce we had already used during the winter and regrew.  Lettuce is amazing!

Potato Bins are just about finished growing.  Two have stopped sending out new plants, but this one still has new growth emerging.  We can’t wait to open up these bins and see how they produced under all that straw and dirt. Hopefully we will have a nice potato harvest.

Garden Bed B

Garden bed B gets more shade than garden bed A.  We built this one because we ran out of room in the first one for plants that like to spread out. In this one we planted different kinds of squash and watermelon, sweet potatoes, and a second planting of radish, and a few flowers and sunflowers to attract pollinators and to enjoy the flowers.  So far there is nothing to harvest in this bed yet, but it is producing a lot of vines and leaves and blooms.

The cucumbers from Garden bed A are growing past the garden now.  They are traveling out into the yard and growing the nicest cucumbers.  They might think the garden bed is too crowded!

Though our garden project this year is small, the garden beds are producing some wonderful foods for our family.

I am thankful for these harvests.  Summer harvests taste delicious and have so much more flavor than food from the store.  I enjoy the beautiful flowers too and all of the variety of insects they attract that help pollinate the plants. This process of a summer garden is even more special when family spends time together planting the food, then watching it grow, and then brings in the harvest together.  Enjoying time together is the best part!

Be blessed!

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Cold Winter and Blankets

It has been a very cold winter here in Indiana so far with several nights of single digit and zero degree temperatures.

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We have had some nights with wind chills as low as  -19 degrees.  That is just too cold!

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I have been usually starting most days with a hot bowl of oatmeal and a mocha (hot drink for me, though the kids still ask for smoothies too, brrrr)  to help us get warmed up in the mornings.  It is really hard for me to drink something cold when I am cold.  So my stove has been working overtime to keep warm beverages and food ready throughout the day!

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A precious lady we met at church a couple of years ago stopped by this winter with some beautiful homemade blankets for our family.  This is one of the most thoughtful gifts anyone has ever shared with our family.  She grew up in a farm house out in the countryside and she remembers how chilly it can get in the winter.

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It must have taken her many long hours of her time to make a special blanket for each child.

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I am so touched by her kindness and generosity to my family.

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She also made one for my husband and I to share.

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All these lovely colors were patiently put together by loving hands and given to us.  We are keeping warm, even in this cold winter, with these beautiful homemade blankets and I am grateful.

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Kid Approved Egg Burritos

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Our chickens have been on egg production overdrive this summer.   I am not complaining though.  We have enjoyed having an abundance of eggs because they were on strike all winter and I would have given anything for some fresh eggs then.  So I will take it while it’s available and not complain!

There are many ways of preserving eggs to keep them into the winter such as freezing out of the shell, boil them and pickle them in a sweet pickle or even beet juice, or storing whole eggs in buckets of sand in a cellar, and you can also crack them and dehydrate them to use in baking or smoothies later.  I have tried freezing them in the past and may put up some this way before winter arrives again.

I may put some eggs under a hen too and try to get her to hatch out some babies too.  It takes 5 to 7 months for a chicken to start laying eggs, so it is a long waiting process when you get started.  Then they usually lay 1 egg a day for a few months.  Then many stop laying for at least a month and up to three months in the winter depending on temperatures and the amount of daylight.  They also use this rest time to shed their feathers and grow new feathers each year.  Usually by their second or third year, the hens don’t lay every day, but maybe evey second or third day.  Most people butcher the hens for soup by their second season when they are less productive.

Lots of eggs

With farm fresh eggs, it is best to store them unwashed but wash them just before using.  This way they keep fresh longer. In the photo above you can see how the eggs look right out of the nest, some are very clean and some have a little dirt on them.  This won’t hurt the egg because they naturally have a protective barrior on the outside of the shell that protects them.  But once you wash them, you also wash away the protective barrier too.

Fertile egg yolk

Another wonderful thing about farm fresh eggs is that if there is a rooster around, your eggs will be fertile.  The yolks are also more yellow orange colored than store bought eggs and this is due to all the grass and insects the chickens eat all day and it creates an omega 3 richer egg.

I am thankful my kids love eggs and their favorite way to eat them is in Egg Burritos.  This is one of the fastest main dishes I make for my large family.  It cooks up in just a few minutes and is ready to serve.

Kid Approved Egg Burritos

Eggs (2 per person)

Butter for cooking

Salt and pepper for seasoning

Tortilla (any soft kind will do, there are many options for different diet needs)

Add In Options: cheese of your choice, sauted veggies, meat, salsa, guacamole, rice, leftovers, etc.

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Place a tablespoon or so of butter in a nonstick pan and add your eggs.  Scramble and continue to stir as they cook until desired doneness.

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Fill tortilla shells.  I find it very handy to place them in a cake pan while I am filling them as it helps hold up the sides of the burrito for me to fill.  Add cheese and even salsa if you wish and serve.  You can make these ahead, then cover and set in a warm oven until ready to eat.  They are also great frozen and reheated when needed.

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Eggs are such a great source of complete protein and easy to digest for most people.  They are delicious served anytime of day or night.  Eggs are very satisfying and help you feel full while nourishing your body.

Be blessed!

Melinda

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Spring!

Oh can it really be true? I sure hope it is! What a difference a few days make. Just a week ago, we were playing games indoors, and if we went outside we had to be bundled head to toe in our heaviest winter gear.

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But it was just too cold to stay out and play for long, and most of our free time was spent doing this:

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and this:

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and building this:

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and more of this:

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Now this week the weather has improved and we can go outside with light jackets!  No more heavy coats!  We can enjoy the sunshine.  Spring has begun even though it’s official day isn’t until next week.   It is still a little chilly if the wind is blowing, but it is so beautiful and I love that there is more color than just white!

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Even the chickens are happy!  They are scratching around in the yard looking for fresh sprouted grass and bugs.  Happy chickens makes me happy!

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Now if we want to play board games, we have the option to play them outside!

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This mama is sooooo thankful for the sunshine and warmer temperatures, for spring and for happy kids!

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Snow But Hoping For Spring Soon

Hoping for spring to come soon!  Even though the snow is pretty, I am ready for a change.  I need some warm sunny days.

Here are some beautiful snowy pictures around the homestead from Saturday, March 1st.   I came outside to snap a few pictures, hoping to say goodbye to winter.

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Pretty, yes!  Practical, no!  I am so over winter.  The driveway is a solid sheet of ice.  My van has been in the same spot in the drive way almost all winter. My husband has a truck and can get in and out just fine for work, and can take several kids on daddy dates to go get groceries and supplies, but my van is the only vehicle we have big enough to take us all out at the same time, and it is not capable of making it down or up the driveway when it is covered in ice.  Oh it has been a long winter!

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We spend our days doing schoolwork, then playing games indoors, reading, baking, building with Legos, making crafts, bundling up in serious winter gear to play in the snow outdoors, etc. But the kids long to play in the grass again without having to wear their heavy winter gear.

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I can’t wait until the snow is gone and the kids can ride bikes and play in the green grass again.

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I love how the pine trees embrace the snow.  I felt this way back in December.  But it is March and I am over it now, lol.

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The older boys bundled up to build a snow fort and throw snow balls this afternoon.  “Please don’t throw one at me, I have a camera!”

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Serious construction going on here Mom!  This one absolutely loves the snow.  He could live in it year around I think.  Alaska or even Antartica wouldn’t bother him a bit.  He could live in any weather anywhere as long as he got to build something I think.  He loves to stay busy building.  And if he can’t go out, if it is too cold or too hot, or pouring down rain, then he builds with his legos and Lincoln logs too.  He tells me all the time he wants to be a builder like his daddy when he grows up.

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Building his wall for his snow fort.

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The kitties followed me everywhere I went.

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They stayed on the trail, but they were all about the little walk around.

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There is five of them: George, Boots, Lion, Precious, Camo, plus their mom: Tiger, and they follow us everywhere.  They are as big as their mom now, but we still call them kittens.  They still act like kittens too.  They are such a joy to our family.  We truly love these precious cats.

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Here is a picture of the chicken coop, outdoor rabbit hutch, and the old barn.

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The goats choose to stay in the barn most of the winter eating their hay. They go outside a little when the sun comes out from behind the clouds, or they stand in the doorway, but they agree with me about winter and I think they are saying “we are tired of the snow already and want some sunshine please!”

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Even the chickens won’t walk in the snow.  All winter they venture out of their house about two feet and then turn around and go back in. They say “no more snow, we wont go, no more snow”, ha, ha!

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This is Boots and he is hanging out in the barn today.  He loves to explore!

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We had to move the rabbits inside as it is too cold here to leave them outside in the winter.

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We were given these wonderful rabbit cages and feeders just after the snows began this winter by a sweet elderly couple who no longer needed them. My husband hung them in the barn.  It reminds me of my grandma’s rabbitree . She had rows and rows of these hanging in her barn.

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The old farmhouse.  Indiana winter’s are cold, snowy, and everything stays frozen. I am thankful for this old farmhouse that shelters my family. Some youngins stepped onto the porch to ask me what I was doing in the snow, lol! I told them “I am saying goodbye to winter and praying for spring!”

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Winter On The Homestead

Winter is definitely a time of slowing down on the homestead. It is just too cold to try to work on projects without a heated space to work in. We have had several below zero temperatures and even some -30 wind chills. Oh my goodness! It is just too cold!

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It is amazing how quiet everything is too.  The snow seems to silence all the noise.

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Paths and garden beds that were so well used just a few months ago, sit idle, waiting on their due season to be active again.

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All the animals are quiet too.

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Even the goats are quiet. They quietly eat their hay and drink water all day long.

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Our chickens who normally run free all over the homestead, wont even come out of their chicken house.  They have a chicken size door on their house that is open all the time, and a small fence that is open all the time so they can run free. But they won’t come out in the snow. They are huddled inside, hiding out until warmer days.

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I know how they feel.
I’m huddled inside too, waiting…
I’m waiting for sunshine…waiting for warmer days.

What is this winter like at your home?
Thanks for your comments.
Be blessed!

This post will be linked up with
Raising Homemakers
Raising Memories

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This Old Barn Has A “New” Story

I love to drive down the road and look at old barns. They are beautiful to me. They must have such a special story to tell of how they were once used daily and were such an important place on the homestead. I have enjoyed traveling all over Kansas, Indiana, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina to look at old barns.

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I might replace the name “old” with “historical” as these barns have such a rich history. I believe we could all learn how to apply the wisdom that old homesteads had gained from time and experience, and better our life today, if we could learn about the history of these old barns.

If I ever produced a TV show, I might call it “This Old Barn” or “This Barn Has A Story” or something like that, and travel around and interview old time farmers and learn about their barn’s past. Sadly, just like many of the old barns, the old time farmers are disappearing. It won’t be long and there may not be any of this generation left to tell the stories.

Some of these historical barns were used for specific uses like tobacco, or wheat, and some were only for horses or pigs, or a dairy, but most of these historical barns had multi uses on the homestead and housed all sorts of livestock (cows, sheep, pigs, goats, horses, chickens, rabbits, etc.), as well as grains, hay, and various tools and farm equipment all at the same time for the benefit of the homesteaders who lived there. Whatever was stored in them, and however they were used, they were the hub of activity and life on the homestead. They represented the economic stability, and the future of the farm.

This Old Barn

Even though I love these historical barns, when we moved to this homestead, I didn’t like my old barn. It is a complete eye sore and the first thing you see coming up the driveway. Every day, and every time I pulled into the driveway, it reminded me that it was in horrible disrepair that can be seen from the road, that I could not fix it, and I could see no future.

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For many reasons, we did not think “this old barn” was salvageable. It is well over a hundred years old and I wish it could be saved, it’s history preserved, and become useful again. But no one that I have met yet seems to know the history of this old barn as it has not been in use with farming as a way of life, or with livestock, for at least the past sixty years or so. The farm has changed hands several times since then. In the past couple of years, another farmer rented the back field for a time after it sat idle for many years, but he did not live here or use the barn. For the past year that I have lived here, I have been very discouraged about the absence of a story, and the absence of homesteading life in this “old” barn.

The old barn on the Weiser Homestead.

The old barn on the Weiser Homestead.

The problems with the barn are numerous and I couldn’t even begin to list them all. It sits on the property line, adjacent to the neighbor’s fence on the south side, so there is no hope in using it at all on the south side. On that side, the neighbor has a large beautiful fenced pasture that he uses for horses and cows.

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Our drive way is on the north and east side, and there is no pasture area on those sides of the barn that we can use. The only space at all to possibly build a pen is an area about 20 feet wide on the east side of the barn. We could not even imagine how we could raise cows or other livestock on this side of the fence and in such a small area and block the access to the back field, and the lack of a decent barn for shelter.

I have asked my husband about making some repairs to the barn, but he says it would not be cost effective. The foundation is in disrepair. There are places where you can see the old stone foundation, but someone came in and poured concrete over that at some point, and there are places where there are holes. The siding is missing almost entirely on the south side, and partially missing or broken on the other sides. And as if all that wasn’t bad enough, the roof leaks and needs replaced and the gutter, windows, and doors are all missing.

Missing and broken barn siding.

When it rains, snows, or the wind blows, most of the barn is wet and cold because of the leaking roof and the missing and broken siding. And there is no running water or electricity working in the barn, though there was a working water spicket and a light on the lower level at sometime in the long ago past, and these linked underground from the old farmhouse, but both resources broke down and were removed at some point. All new lines would need run from the house again for this resource to be available.

There was a room addition added onto the west side of old barn many years ago, and it was placed on gravel foundation with block on the lower half of the west wall, but the addition was not done correctly and needs completely redone. The wood framework of the barn both vertically and horizontally are termite eaten. The wood flooring on the upper level is bad and needs rebuilt or one could fall through. As a matter of fact, the whole barn needs torn down and rebuilt. It is just one huge eye sore and disappointment for a working homestead.

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I wish we could fix this old barn. But rebuilding the barn is not an option for us at this time. It would take a lot of money to fix it, and we won’t be able to do that for several years as far as we can tell.

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Knowing all these problems with the building when we moved here, we did not have plans to use the old barn as it did not seem like a safe habitat for much of anything, even though it was used for a small scale farm with dairy cows, horses, and hay in the long ago past. There is still old fashion milking stanchions on the lower south side of the barn, and two horse stalls on the north side of the lower level. There is a walkway in between the south and north sides where the farmer who built this old barn walked and fed the animals on either side.

It is certainly not safe now to even store bales of hay in it’s present condition. It seems that we could cause it to collapse under the heavy weight of hay bales, and they would get wet too. We have stored the mower and bikes in the lower barn, on the gravel side where the room addition is, but I don’t even let the kids play in it due to the safety concerns, and they can only enter it with supervision when daddy or I go with them.

This Old Barn Has A “New” Story.

 

kitty on the Weiser homestead.

But God clearly had other thoughts about this old barn. He knew what it could be used for without costing us any money to fix it, and a potential we did not and could not see. He does this with human lives too. He sees the potential they have no matter how broken they look. Though they themselves can not fix their circumstances, he can. He knows what they are capable of in their future, and he sees into their future and works out everything for the good of those who love him.

“We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him. They are the ones God has chosen for his purpose,” Romans 8:28

Playful kitten in the old barn on the Weiser homestead.

The north side of the barn still has some siding, and the concrete floor inside the lower level on the north and east end of the barn is still usable.  So with a wall for a wind break, and shelter, this old barn could still provide a safe habitat for small animals. It wouldn’t hold up to a cow or a horse as it did years ago, but it may work as a shelter for smaller animals.

The old barn is in use once again and is telling a new story. The barn has become the new home for our five beautiful kittens that were born earlier this summer. It will also house our rabbits for the winter. The rabbits are currently outside next to our chickens, but we will be moving them inside the barn very soon.

Now the old barn has also become a home for a herd of goats on the homestead. We did not seek out this herd of goats. But we found ourself in a situation where someone wanted to give us their goats, plus all the equipment they had accumulated over the years to care for the goats including solar electric fencing, hay feeders, a mineral feeder, a bag of mineral powder, hoof trimmers, a water tank, three calf huts for shelters, and all the hay the goats can eat for the winter.

Goats eating hay in the barn.

The goats were owned by an elderly gentleman who’s grandchildren had shown them in 4H. But now they were grown, no longer in 4H, and had moved away. His health was declining, and he did not want to care for them through the harsh Indiana winters any more.  He got our name through the local 4H goat club leader, and he contacted us several times asking us if we would like to have them.

We discussed the situation several times, and each time our decision was no, we could not get the goats. We could not even imagine having goats again at this time because of the expenses to set them up and care for them properly, etc. It can cost thousands of dollars to buy livestock, feed them and care for their needs year around, set up fencing, and set up shelter for them. Those are expenses we don’t have in our budget right now. We are doing good just to take care of our family and a few chickens and pet rabbits, cats, and dogs, as the last year of our life was a whirlwind of moving a cross the country, job losses, and under employment. How could we even dream of getting livestock?

“Look at the crows! They don’t plant or harvest, and they don’t have storehouses or barns. But God takes care of them. You are much more important than any birds.” Luke 12:24

But God had placed favor on us, and this man who we did not know wanted to give us his goats.  He clearly loved his pet goats and wanted them to have a good home with lots of love and a future.

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The old farmer’s pet goat climbing his fence.

He also wanted to give us everything we would need to care for his animals for the next year, and help make the transition for us to own and care for them as smooth as possible. Though he did not even know us, his gift of generosity was genuine.

Goats at the old farmer's homestead.

Goats at the old farmer’s homestead.

When went to look at the goats, still questioning could we do this or not, it all changed once we met him in person and saw his love for his animals.  Instantly our whole family fell in love with his goats. They were calm and friendly. He had them in a large fenced pasture with access into a barn for shelter.

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So my husband picked up the supplies the farmer wanted to give us on a Saturday, and got busy putting a pen together! The children helped measuring the distance, stake out the boundary, drive the posts, run the wire, etc.  They were so excited to build the pen.

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My husband sectioned off a small area on the lower level of the barn for the goats with some leftover wood scraps and a fence panel we were given, set up the calf huts outside the barn just in case the rain coming into the barn is a problem and the goats can use them as a rain shelter, and he built the goat pen outside to the east of the old barn.

East side of old barn.

He used the neighboring farm’s fence on the south side, the electric fence we were given on the north and east sides, and used the east wall of the barn for the pen’s west side. In the state of Indiana, both neighbors are legally allowed to use a fence that is on the property line. So the neighbor has cows on his side, and we have goats on our side.  Our fence supplies went a lot further because we only had to build two sides for a pen, by using the neighbor’s fence and the side of our barn on the other two sides.

The pen is only as wide as the barn, about 20 feet wide because the other three sides are unusable with a neighbor to one side, and a drive way to the other two sides. That is our only access for our drive way and to the back of the property so we had to leave a lane wide enough to drive through and could not make the pen any wider than the barn.  But the pen came out as a nice long rectangle, and the goats can go in an out of the old barn through the missing door when ever they want, and knowing what little we started with, we are thrilled with it.

Petting the nubian goat.

The kids are having so much fun petting and caring for the goats everyday. They water them in the tank we were given, currently with a hose stretched from the house, until freezing winter weather hits our area, and then we will have to put the hose away and carry water in buckets down the hill to them.

Watering the goats

The goats eat hay and grass and powdered mineral, free choice. They do not eat any grain. The old farmer who gave the goats to us said he has never given them any grain and they stay healthier if they are only fed fresh grass, hay, and minerals free choice. YAHOO!

Hay time for goats.

When we were ready and the pen was built, the old farmer delivered the goats to us in his livestock trailer.  Wow, delivered right to our door.  Once again the Lord worked out all the details.  Now the goats are settling into their new home, they are well cared for, loved, and they don’t seem to notice the brokeness of the old barn. They are making a new history here, and the barn once again has a new purpose on the homestead.

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This old barn has a new story! What an amazing blessing! God knew ahead and saw what we did not see. His plans for us, and his thoughts about us are for a hope and a future.

“I will bless you with a future filled with hope—a future of success, not of suffering.” Jeremiah 29:11

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Fruitful Homesteading


We are homesteaders.  We have always loved “living off the land”.  God has placed such an amazing potential in the land to grow what we need.  We love experiencing the process of planting, tending, nurturing, and harvesting.

Homesteading Is Our Heritage:

We have gained experience raising many kinds of plants and animals over the years.  Our experience in farming started young. My husband and I both spent part of our childhood living on the farm. He farmed with his grandparents in Indiana, and I farmed with my father and grandparents in Kansas.  We both showed animals and other projects in 4-H in our youth too.  We both learned allot from these experiences and we have fond memories of life on the farm.  Spending time on the farm in our youth seems to have planted a seed of love for the farm in us that continues to grow. 

As adults, we began homesteading in Kansas in 1991.  We started with gardens, canning and dehydrating foods that we raised, as well as fishing and hunting.  We hardly had to buy any groceries at the store.  Most of the foods we ate through out the year we either raised or caught in the wild.  To help me improve on my skills, I spent a lot of time with various elderly neighbors who valued gardening and homesteading.  I learned a lot from them.  Also my dad drove about 300 miles and came to stay with us for about two weeks and gave us a big education in gardening, fishing, and locating local and wild foods in our area.  We were hands on the whole two weeks and it was a great time.

Those first few years of learning to homestead were amazing.  We were always learning a new (yet ancient) way to provide for ourselves and neighbors.  We loved to go fishing often (every day of the week if we could).  We enjoyed bringing home crape, walleye, perch, catfish, and bass from our fishing outings at Tuttle Creek Reservoir and Milford Lake as well as at a local gravel quarry.  Once the fish was gutted and cleaned we bagged some of it to freeze and eat later, and some we set in the fridge to make a fresh meal with too.  My husband also loves to hunt quail, pheasant, turkey, and deer.   After hunting, we gutted the animal, cleaned, cut, and wrapped the meat for storage in the freezer.

In 1993 we moved to Indiana and set up a new homestead.  We bought a house and turned the yard into food producing.  We planted an orchard and began raising chickens and rabbits (for organic fertilizer), in addition to organic gardening.  The property also had raspberries, mulberries, and goose berries.  We continued to enjoy fishing and hunting.  My husband took up a hobby of night fishing too with a friend who owned a boat.  This allowed him to get even bigger fish than he was not able to get access to when fishing from the bank.

In 1995, I began visiting local farms and Amish families in the area and learning more about raising food and homesteading.  I learned about the Weston A Price Foundation, Poly Face Farms, and good sound nutrition regarding nutrient dense foods.  I perfected my skills in bread baking, butchering my own chickens, and learned to grow, ferment, and preserve variety of foods including meats.

We bought our first small farm in 1997.  It was a gorgeous rolling and wooded 10 acres of land that bordered a lake.  Our neighbor who owned the lake also owned 250 acres that surrounded our property.  We were surrounded by nature and wildlife of all kinds.  We built fence and began raising beef cattle, meat goats, milking Nubian dairy goats, rabbits, and several kinds of poultry for eggs and meat including: turkeys, ducks, chickens, geese, and guineas.  We planted a huge garden and a small orchard.  We had bountiful reserves of wild elderberries, raspberries, mulberries, and blackberries too.  Neighbors often let us pick their plums, cherries, crabapples and apples too.  Another neighbor made homemade maple syrup and allowed us to help and gave us syrup as a trade for our labor.  Other neighbors raised blueberries, and raw honey, and other foods, and we often purchased or traded for what we needed.


Honey comb raised by a neighbor, and deer sausage made from a deer my husband hunted.

We bought a bigger farm in 2001, and expanded our skills raising animals and produce.  We built lots of fence, a pond, a barn, and a farm store to sell healthy foods, in addition to raising grass fed Angus and Angus-cross beef, eggs, chickens, turkeys, guineas, geese, ducks, rabbits, Jersey dairy cows, Nubian dairy goats, Boer meat goats, Kahtadin sheep, and a few horses.  We raised garden produce, alfalfa hay, orchard grass hay, as well as bailed hay for other farmers too.  We also had a cow share program on our farm and folks would come each week to pick up a share of fresh raw milk from our Jersey cows.  My husband continued to hunt and fish at every opportunity.  The freezer was always full.  We enjoyed wild foods such as deer and fish a couple of times a week, and the rest of the week was filled with foods we had raised right on our farm.  Life was good.  It was the lifestyle we wanted for our family.

Besides farming, my husband owned a construction company and also served on the local board of zoning appeals and was President of the local Home Builders Association.  But the economy kept declining and construction in our local area took a hard hit.  Work was up and down and more down than up.  Over time, with medical expenses, a growing family, and financial hardship that seemed to get worse and not better, it became harder and harder to work in construction and pay for the farm.

Construction stats were still going strong in the Carolinas and after much prayer we sold the farm to move to North Carolina for a project management job in commercial construction.  He was offered a good job and the promise of commissions and bonuses.  We had planned to be able to get on our feet again and buy a farm there after a few years.   We had also planned for my husband to get a bible degree in ministry and help out in ministry outreach.

Under-estimated Set Backs:

Though we tried to stay positive and found things to enjoy and had some great adv
entures with our kids while living in NC, there were several things we did not anticipate.  We did not foresee the company my husband worked for cheating him out of all of his commissions he earned, and bonuses that were promised each year, or them lying about fulfilling the General Manager job they promised him.  He managed millions of dollars in construction for them, as much as 40 million dollars during those five years, and made them millions of dollars in profits.  He is an excellent and tallented construction manager. They cheated him out of everything they promised him.  Instead of getting on our feet, the move to NC only resulted in deeper debt and no hope to set up our farm.

We also had a some financial setbacks due to medical complications.  First, I was pregnant with baby number 5 when we moved.  Having babies is very expensive.  Then my husband hurt his lower back and needed xrays and weekly care from a chiropractor.  The next medical set back came when I got pregnant with baby number 6.  I went for an ultrasound, and all was good.  But in my fourth month, I had a miscarraige and nearly hemoraged to death at home.  My blood pressure dropped to 95 / 105.  I should have gone to the hospital at this point, but there was no money.  I continued to bleed for 12 weeks following the deadly miscarrage and I was physically weak.  It resulted in $4k in medical care, sonogram, biopsy, and numerous blood tests.  They found nothing wrong, and my body healed on its own.  Not long after that, I got pregnant with baby number 7.   This birth went well, and I trusted a midwife for the delivery.  She spent very little time with me, perhaps only two or three visits, and then passed me on to two interns for several visits.  We did not have a good due date as we had a sonogram at about 30 weeks, but to late to get a good delivery date.  During the last few days of the pregnancy, the midwife decided not to deliver the baby, thinking perhaps I was over due.  This resulted in a last minute search for a medical provider, a hospital admission, pitocin to start labor, an emergency c section due to their medical interventions, and over 40k in medical bills.  Once the baby was delivered, they estimated he was only 39 weeks, and not over due at all.  The stress from this ordeal was almost more than we could bare.  Then my husband needed surgery for a tear in his colon.  And the bills just seamed to mount higher and higher.  Those circumstances were tough, and I praise God we all came through those with no further problems and we are well today!

During the five years we lived in North Carolina, we lived in a subdivision and missed the homesteading lifestyle tremendously.  We actually grieved and I think this had a detrimental effect on our health.   Our children also grieved.  They missed their animals and the life we had on the farm much more than we thought they would.

We missed our way of life.  Grieving for our farm was taking its toll on our health both physically and emotionally.  Though we tried to find it, we did not find a good
replacement in NC for the life we left behind in IN.  Top of the list was expensive medical bills and second to that, was that my husband was unhappy in his job.  Thirdly we did not find good fishing or hunting opportunities.  We tried several lakes with no luck on fishing.  Then there was the challenges of trying to raise some of our own food. Our yard had no top soil to raise our food.  The ground was hard clay.  We worked at building up the soil with grass and worms, manure, and nutrients.  We made gardens in raised beds and added in purchased top soils, but it was a far cry from the rich soils we had enjoyed on the farm.  We also enrolled our kids in Henderson County 4H and they participated in animal husbandry with the Barnyard Bandits and showed animals at the NC Mountain State Fair.  They hatched chicken eggs, raised turkeys, and trained with and showed goats and turkeys at the fair.   It was wonderful to raise animals again in 4H, and we are grateful the 4H leader let the kids keep their animals at her place.  It was a lot of hard work to travel there everyday, or every other day, and take care of the animals.  It was not the same as raising our animals on our own farm.

The longing to farm again as we had in Indiana kept nagging at our heart.   The cost of farmland was the deterring factor for us.  Compairing the farms in both areas is eye opening.  Farmland in the Hendersonville and Asheville areas of NC sell for 25k to 100k an acre. The majority of the land is vertical due to the mountains, and orchards are the main crops, though there are some farms that lay flat in the valleys between the mountains that can produce well.  These are often flooded during the rains as they are the main route for water that comes off the mountains.    Farms in east central Indiana costs much less, about 4k to 6k an acre, are gently rolling landscapes, and are rich in top soil and nutrients, get ample rain and have abundant water resources.  The ground water table is high and plants and animals have good access to water.

When we finally realized the company my husband worked for would never honor the agreement he had with them, and therefore we would not be able to afford a farm in North Carolina and open our heathy foods farm store again, we were devastated.
How could we ever afford the life we want for our family in NC?  He tried to find another project management job in his field, but nothing opened up.  He also considered starting his own construction company there, but to own a construction company in NC requires a huge financial backing also.   Construction there is divided into size and dollar amount of projects and you are required to have a license and large sum of money in your bank account.  After five years of struggling, being lied to by people we trusted, and seeing our dreams of farming become a far off, if ever opportunity, we cut our losses and moved home to Indiana to start over. 

A New Start and Hard Work:

This season of our life finds us in a new homestead with new opportunities in Indiana.  It is hard work to start over in life.  This is some of the toughest times we have ever gone through.  My husband and I are in our forties and not as young as we used to be.  Life has sort of beat us down so to speak, and we don’t have the boundless energy or finances that we used to have.  We also have six young kids to take care of which is a huge task, and trust me when I say that it is a lot of work!  The laundry and dishes for
a family of eight people is overwhelming sometimes!  A broken house and no money to fix it gets to me sometimes.  But I know we can fix it when the money comes in.  My husband started up his construction company again.  He is very good at construction, and I know his business will be successful and the funds will be there to meet our needs.

It is also hard work to homestead.  It requires dedication and back breaking labor to clear the land, till it, plant, and cultivate it to grow food for your family and others.  But it has great potential and there is something very rewarding in this labor of love.

This summer we have been working on cleaning up the homestead: trimming trees, clearing brush, cleaning flower beds, mowing, etc.   The farm is over 100 years old.  We will do some research to find the exact age of the homestead, but we are guessing as much as 150 years.  The house is in desperate need of updating and fixing what is broken.  But it will have to wait until there are finances to do so.

A portion of the farm, about 7 acres or so, has been let go over many years, and other than mowing potions of it, it does not appear to have been farmed with animals, or gardens in at least 30 years.  The pasture, trees, bushes, and the fruit trees have been let go.

The back of the property has a nice field and borders fields on the side and woods at the back on the neighboring land.  About 7 years ago, a local farmer began renting the land at the back of the farm and cleaned it up, removing some trees and lots of bushes and brush, and planted organic crops on it.  He has raised both organic corn and organic soybeans on the back 22 acres, and for the past 3 years has farmed certified organic alfalfa hay in that space.  To have the ground certified organic, it was inspected, proven to have been free of chemical aplications that conflict with organic certification, and has grass buffer on all sides.  It also has to have 3 years of “rest” to build up soil following crops of corn and beans.  So in this rotation, the farmer planned to plant organic corn again next year.  But our hope is to continue with the organic hay.

It is pure alfalfa and did I mention it is ORGANIC!!!  We are so excited!  Alfalfa hay is high in nutrients and will be a perfect food for our livestock.  It has several good years of production left.   He will be finished with his lease on it in a few weeks and we will take over tending and bailing the hay.  Here in this part of Indiana, we usually can get three to four cuttings of hay in good years.   So that part of the farm is producing. 

This summer we are focussing on cleaning up the front part of the farm.  We we will eventually have livestock on this section of the farm as there is usuable pasture and a barn.  We will ad fencing and livestock when we have the finances to do so.  The barn has room for hay upstairs, and horses and milk cows downstairs as well as two workshop areas.  There is a seven cow milking parlor in one side of the barn.  There is another foundation without a building, and someday we hope to build a greenhouse there.  There are two sheds.  One is in good shape, and one needs torn down and rebuilt.

We have also planted a large garden, and a small fruit orchard.  So far, the garden has 18 rows of 60 sweet corn, 25 tomato plants, 6 rows of green beans, 2 rows of yellow beans, 6 bell peppers, 10 chili peppers, 5 jalapino peppers, 4 egg plant, 4 okra, 6 zucchini plants, 6 cucumber plants, 4 cantaloupe, 4 watermelon, 4 acorn squash, 12 winter squash plants, and one row each of: radish, beets, lettuce, carrots, sweet potatoes, strawberries, basil, oregano, thyme, mint, cilantro, parsley, dill, kale, sunflowers, xenia, marigolds, and more.  I want to plant another planting of several vegetables like corn, beets, radish, greens, and more as soon as there are some funds to do so.

In the orchard so far, we have planted a few apple trees, peach, pear, 9 blueberry bushes, 12 black raspberries (transplanted from the wild), 2 red raspberries, 2 black berries, and a concord grape.  We already have mature, but unmanaged apple trees of several varieties, pear trees, a plum tree, a huge amount of mulberry trees, and a white peach tree as well as well as wild raspberries, wild grapes, and blackberries too.   All of these mature fruit trees and bushes are loaded with fruit this summer.  They have some bugs, but they are all natural.  We are thrilled and are so excited for next year’s crop of fruit.  After digging several holes in an empty field, we tenderly planted our new fruit trees and bushes that are full of future potential.  Later this fall, we will trim the mature fruit trees and prep them for next year’s fruiting season. 

A fruitful potential.  It is a good start for our first season on the homestead.

We love participating in this process. We observe, learn, tweak, nurture, and are amazed at the manifestation of all the potential.  We are homesteaders.

I know we, our children, perhaps grandchildren too, will have a bright and fruitful future on this homestead.

They will be like trees that stay healthy and fruitful, even when they are old. Psalm 92:14

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