Tuesday, December 2, 2008

NSD - No Spending Day

Today was another no-spending day. Day number 2!!! It feels good to be setting goals and following through. I carried my lunch again and didn't leave the office. I'm doing that on purpose. Don't put myself in a place or position to spend money. I am planning on tomorrow being a spending day. I have a list and I will stick to buying only the things on the list. More of on-purpose choices to get me where I want to be. Where do I want to be? Less afraid in this economy, able to provide for my family, secure and stable, able to have a nice emergency fund on hand and ready for when it is needed. Mostly though I want to teach my children the lesson of doing things on purpose and living simply within one's means and to be as prepared as can be. How about you guys. How are your goals for the month or year coming? Have you given purposeful attention to your goals? I would love to hear from you all so I can know I'm not in this struggle alone.

Monday, December 1, 2008

December is time for frugality......

I set a goal for our family for this month....only five spending days. We need to get back on track and there is no easy way or should I say painless way to accomplish that. So I am diving in head first and am committing to only spending money on five days. Today was day one and we acheived success. I'm sure it will be a day by day but the surest way to having what you want in your life is to do things on purpose.....Not living on autopilot....but on purpose only spending money five days. So today - I carried my lunch, took my own half-n-half for my coffee at work, no lunch-break shopping at the thrift-store, and it was okay....totally doable. A little pain for long-term goals. What are your goals? What are you working for?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oh so many blessings....

I am one of those people who focuses on how blessed I am, usually on a daily basis. My professional life gives me alot of time for introspection as well as daily interface with people whose lives are in sharp contrast to my own. I don't mean that to sound judgey, just that I know I am BLESSED and am given the opportunity for that message to be reinforced many times on a daily basis.

Our family was all together for Thanksgiving. Lindsey, our oldest, and her new husband, Andres came and spent a week. I was off from work and the kids had time away from school. It was great to be all together. Such a blessing. The weather was very nice and we even had some fun with the horses.

The week flew by. Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the airport. We had lots of fun but also some challenges. We recently acquired two Holstein steer calves that we will raise for beef. One of the cows came down with the scours and a respiratory rattle. So the greater part of the week was spent with the "Rusty", the cow, covered with a blanket in the laundry room. We called our neighbors, the Amoth's, and they came over and coached us thru to better health for Rusty. The Amoth's are a blessing to our lives.
This is Rusty with his side-kick Baby Girl. She is the last of seven of our Molly's litter. She is looking for a new home, so don't be shy....send me an email. I know everyone needs a pure bred Lab puppy for Christmas. Rusty is keeping her company since her litter mates all have new homes.
It's good to be back. I have missed all of you. I purchased a couple of items (SD card and USB mini card reader) that will make my blogging the fun that it is intended to be.
Look forward to hearing from you all. If you get a chance check out today's post from Kathie on herbal coasters. These are definitly going to bless someone on my Christmas list.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Did you miss me?

Sorry I was MIA for so long. Lots of exciting things to share, so I'll get to gettin'. When I last posted, I was introducing you to some of our wonderful four and two legged additions to the homestead. We still have them all, minus a couple of chicks....we think the neighbor's cat has been enjoying some chicken dinner. We are waiting to catch him for confirmation.

Canning season has been great. I have learned so much from you fellow bloggers, Kathie and others. Somewhere I have lost track of my tally but the pantry is really starting to look awesome. We have shared with family and friends and have received lots of mmm, mmm, goods. Makes you feel proud that you did that. Just another reason I love canning besides providing my family with healthy, economical food choices. Speakin' of familiy, canning is a family affair. Everyone helps and feels the pride of a job well-done.

We made a fast and furious trip to Texas. It was so awesome to see family and friends and to feel the pride of seeing our eldest take another big step in her life and give to us the gift of a wonderful son-n-law. Welcome, Andres, we are so blessed to have you in our lives.

First Day of School

Everyone headed off to school, hopeful for another great year. We have five teenagers, 4 at the high school and the baby is an 8th grader at the junior high. Can you say TAXI??

I'll try to not wait so long between posts. Sorry I left you guys a hangin' but I'm back and so grateful to be.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Around the homestead...

My name is Betty and I am the baby cow but I am also the cow that isn't going to be eaten. My counterpart is Gertrude and she is going to be eaten because she is a freemartin. A freemartin is a female twin to a bull that 93% of the time will be sterile and unable to reproduce.

So many things that we've have learned since having cows join our family farm. Who knew having a twin brother would make one sterile. Both cows are 5 to 6 months old and are Simental/Red Angus cross. Gertrude is a much bigger cow than Betty. Betty had diarehea on Sunday and we had to give her Pepto-Bismal. It looked like she had on pink lipstick. Quite the look but she is all better now and no longer has mud-butt.

This is Curly. He was originally one of three white cochin
roosters. Larry and Moe went to live on other farms because
we had to reduce our rooster population. Curly is very sexy and this is his getting down to business pose for the ladies. He is not the top rooster on the farm but don't tell him that, it would really deflate his ego.

This is Sam and he is the top rooster. Sam is an Araunacana. He is the only Araunacana in our flock. He is a real gentleman to the ladies but not so much so to the family. He isn't bad enough to go to freezer camp but you don't want to turn your back on him if you know what I mean.

I feel so blessed to share our home with so many animals, both 2 and 4 footed. These are just a few and I will be sharing more along the way. My own therapy is calling the chickens and feeding them old bread. They eat out of my hand, but they really get excited when they get worms. Oh the simple joy of everyday life. Don't miss it, it will pass you by.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Full of It....

Home-canned goodies that is. It was another really successful weekend canning and the like. It started on Wednesday with another 15# box of green beans from Yoder's fruit stand. It yielded 21 pts and 7 qts. We had green beans on Saturday and boy were they delicious. I placed an order today for the Wednesday. The prices are even better if you buy the whole box. I ordered canning tomatoes (25#), Walla Walla onions (50#), Yukon gold potatoes (50#), and another box of green beans (15#). I'm really beginning to get alot of yellow summer squash and zucchini from my garden. Send all your awesome recipes my way. My squash casserole and fried squash are the families current favorites. If anyone wants the squash casserole recipe, I will be glad to post it, just let me know.
On Friday, the kids and I went huckleberry picking with our friends the Meyers. If you don't know what a huckleberry is, it is a wild blueberry. They are plentiful in Idaho and are really yummy. This was my first year to ever pick huckleberries. Last year I bought 3 gallons at $32.00 a gallon. Not this year. The kids and I probably picked close to that much. I made 14 half-pints of jam and froze 4 - 1 qt bags. The jam is so good. We had some this weekend on top of home-made ice-cream. A Homesteading Neophyte inspired me to dust off the old ice-cream freezer. I made two freezers full this weekend. Needless to say, it was a huge hit. This is a picture of Katlyn's bowl of home-made vanilla ice cream with
huckleberry jam drizzled over the top. It was so good. After picking the huckleberries, I picked two pails full of raspberries off Jen's bushes. They are loaded and are so sweet and delicious. The raspberries became jam, 2 fresh raspberry pies, and a raspberry cobbler. Thanks Jen for sharing with us. You guys are a blessing to our family.
It feels really good to be in the kitchen fixing real home-made food for my family. I love being creative and trying new things. I want to continue to stretch myself and learn new things. For example, this is my first year to ever pressure can. Previous I only had a water bath canner. I feel proud to have gained some mastery over that scary rattling monolith and to have even shared the skill with my kids. They have been a huge help - both in watching, timing, moving the heavy pot, moving the newly canned jars into long-term storage, and well you get the picture. In every facet we approach things as a family. In my opinion that is how a homesteader does things.....together.
Please share your creations with me. I believe that is also part of being a homesteader and that is community. Belonging and sharing. Being a giver. I look forward to your comments.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Things are heatin' up round here...

And it ain't just the weather. The garden is beginning to churn out some goodness. Got some more squash and our first zucchini tonight. Also picked more snow peas and the first green bean. Two more squash and another zucchini will be just right for picking tomorrow. I was able to use my "outdoor cooking station" and fried up the squash for dinner....didn't heat up the house and didn't splatter all over the cook-top inside that's a bugger to clean. Did I mention that I don't recommend a black ceramic surface on the cook-top? Anywho, the outdoor setup performed great once again.

Christopher and Michael are continuing to hay and boy it is proving to hot and hard work...but they are hanging in there. I am so proud of them. Between haying sessions, the boys took the four-wheeler dragging the boat down to this lake just on the other side of the river. That kinda goes back to my post about why I live where I live. Where could you drive (without a drivers license) a four-wheeler towing a 14' fiberglass boat down the county road? I wish I had been home to see it but I wasn't. In fact, I heard about it from the neighbor at the grocery store where I dashed in to pick-up hamburger buns for dinner.

This is a picture of Christopher with the catch of the day. A 3 lb large-mouth bass. It got added to the freezer bag with Katlyn's trout from last week. They are beginning to add up. Everyone is looking forward to a fish fry. Terry frequents a site also focused on self-sustainability and shared pics with me of one of the board-mates who has 70 pints of salmon canned. Of course, he lives in Alaska but wow that would be SO nice.

Currently we are focusing on the following projects. 1.)Growing as much food in our garden for fresh food and canning the excess for use this winter. 2.) Canning all the fruit from our fruit trees (cherry, apricot, plum, pear, and apple). 3.) Picking raspberries from a friend for jelly and pies. 4.) Picking huckleberries locally to make jelly and to freeze for use during the winter. 5.) Scavenging the local thrift stores for more canning jars and asking everyone I know to keep an eye out for folks selling their un-used jars. 6.) The boys are getting us set up with hay for the winter for the animals. We will store the hay in the barn at PawPaw's house as we don't have a barn yet. 7.) Getting a weiner pig to raise for the freezer. 8.) We just moved the chicks from the "crowded stock-tank to the goat-house. The goats have vacated the house for the summer and hopefully the chicks will be ready to be moved to the hen house by the the time the goats need their house back. 9.) Siding and roofing the hen house and goat house before snow flies. 10.) Build a shelter for the horse also before the snow flies. 11.) Taking a big trip to Texas to marry off our daughter and to visit friends and family. 12.) Gather more firewood, cut, split and stack. 13.) Start a recycling bin for aluminum cans.

I know, I know the list may seem overwhelming to some but to me it really helps me to visualize where we are going and need to go as a family. The list above is not in order of priority but a jumping in list to then discuss and order by importance. Research proves list-makers are more successful than non list-makers. Terry hates lists but has conceded that they DO work. Feel free to share your project lists and we can encourage one-another......

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Canning and cleaning....whew!!

Just a quick update on the weekend. Friday was a frustrating day. One of those days that if everything can go wrong, it will and did. We went over to PawPaw's to work on gathering more firewood. The chain saw was fighting us and that makes the work even more frustrating than working in the heat of the day. After much bru-haha, we decided to just load the pickup with all that it would hold and take it home and unload and look for cooler work. The rest of the day I worked on getting the veggies ready for canning.

Saturday was spent canning. I think I posted that I have 2 22qt Presto canners. Should make the work much quicker.....but on the older one, the gauge doesn't work properly and the seal is dripping, so looks like I need to replace those couple of items. No biggy because it was given to me for FREE. I called the hardware store in Sandpoint and they have both items in stock so I will either pick them up or see if my friend who works in Sandpoint can pick them up for me - saving me both time and gas money. Both are big commodities at this point.

Today I helped to deep clean Terry's shop. I should say un-bury. There was a shop there under all the sawdust and wood chips. He is working on a major furniture order and hasn't had the time or energy to keep up on the cleaning....but at some point it takes longer to find a misplaced tool than it does to just go ahead and clean. Terry really appreciated the help and I know that will really help him ten-fold this week with his productivity.

Cleaning sure works up an appetite so I cooked a really good dinner and everyone enjoyed themselves. We have t-bone steaks, squash casserole (squash from my garden), carrot salad, ceasar salad, fresh green beans and yukon potatoes, and cherry cake topped with ice cream and some of the wonderful cherry sauce that I canned this weekend. Thank you so much Kathie for the awesome recipe. It is yum-oo!!

Watched a movie with the fam and now I'm getting ready for bed and Terry is in the shop sharpening his chisels and hand-planes so he really can hit the ground running. I'll look forward to hearing of your weekend activities. I've already checked out Jeff and Kathie's over at Two Frog Home. They are working up a storm on their new place, so exciting.....Take care and let me hear from you....that's the best part!!! Until then,

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Canning season is upon us....

Last Friday I made a quick stop at the local Amish fruit-stand before they closed for the week. I was able to pick-up 12 bunches of nice beets for $4.50. I got 5 pints of pickled beets. I love pickled beets. Terry doesn't so I won't be sharing. The kids aren't sure whether they like them or not....
Today I went to the same fruit-stand on my lunch hour. I was able to pick-up a 15# box of green beans and a 5# bag of yukon gold new potatoes. I brought them home and we all set around the kitchen table snapping beans. The kids had never snapped beans before and Terry entertained us with stories from his childhood of snapping beans with his grandmother "Inee". We all got a good laugh. The beans and potatoes ended up yielding 25 quarts of beans with potatoes and 1 quart of potatoes. Not too bad. I spent $24.00 for the produce but had all my jars and lids already at home. I think I did pretty good. I have beans in my garden at home but don't think I will get enough so I decided to supplement.
So far everyone has pitched in and been alot of help. Hope this continues through the entire season. I'm making plans to get together with a couple of blogger friends to do some canning. That should be tons of fun. I am really looking forward to it. We need to get a date in mind. I also have plans to get together with my friend Jen and do some mad-canning of pickled hot veggies (cauliflower, peppers, carrots, celery, garlic, dill) you know that yummy stuff. Canning doesn't seem like work when the whole family or friends join together. I think this is a living example of community.
My goals of self-sufficiency coupled with long-term storage building really got a good boost today. I can't wait to see what it looks like at the end of a very successful canning season. I look forward to sharing more with you and hearing of both your successes and failures. We can all learn so much from each other!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why we live where we live....

This past week our community was hit by a very destructive wind storm. PawPaw had a huge tree that was blown over, roots and all, at his place. We went over tonight and began clearing off side limbs. The tree is a Ponderosa Pine and was probably close to 100 feet tall and around 3 feet across at the base. One huge tree. It will cut up into fire wood for us to burn this winter.

Our neighbors the Amoths also suffered a huge loss. They own an old grain elevator at the end of our road that was severely damaged. Every summer they use the elevator to store grain for the winter for their animals. Today there was a large crowd, probably 30 men and boys, gathered to begin taking down all the demolished wood and metal and getting everything sorted and readied to be rebuilt. They had also delivered in portable potties and the women had food and drinks all set up. It made me proud to be a part of a community that pitches in and helps one-another in times of need. Tonight around 9:00 p.m. they were still working. Awesome.... friends helping friends.

Terry made the comment that you probably wouldn't see this kind of support in a large metropolitan area. Really reinforces our decision to relocate to Idaho and raise our children in this environment.

Get out today and help someone!! It will help them and will help you also in the process.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Homesteading isn't for sissies...

I posted a couple of weeks back about Manny coming to live with us here on the homestead. Well we learned yesterday that it isn't going to work out. Many factors and evidently wasn't meant to be, but still we are saddened.

Other horsey news is that I purchased a just like new saddle off Craigslist. Yes I know, I better check out the Craigslist Anonymous meeting schedule soon because I am a Craigslist addict. I can admit it.

Anyway back to the saddle, it is a chocolate brown synthetic 17" western saddle. It was still in the box. The cinch strap was still in the plastic. It was an awesome find. The lady was only selling it because she needed a different saddle for her gaited horse. Thank you so much Sandy!!!!

We only had a small saddle for the kids and a bareback saddle. Terry tried to ride Tanner last weekend with the small saddle and lets just say that didn't work out so well. Terry landed on his feet and Tanner was glad he was off his back because I think the saddle was pinching him. I can't wait to try out the new saddle later today.

Also another great score from Craigslist, 2 double-wall fount chicken waters and 2 large feeders. I got all of them for a $20 spot and the small double-wall fount waterer alone would be more than the $20 paid for all of them.

Getting into homesteading isn't an inexpensive endeavor by any means. I love saving where and when I can. I picked up some pint canning jars at the thrift store this week. I also got a couple of new issue magazines. Katlyn made a sour cream cherry pie from a recipe featured in one of the mags. Definitely worth its .10 cents sticker price, don't you think? It only takes a little more effort to shop smarter. Yes, I could have purchased the same magazine at the grocery store and paid the full cover price of $4.95. I could have purchased new jars at the store but I choose to re-use and shop smarter, any time I can. I love finding a deal on something that can really benefit the kids or the homestead......woohoo!!! I think that is the essence of homesteading - being able to make something grand out of something simple. Again I say, less is more. These are important lessons not only for our children but also for us.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

First of the Season....

So tonight after dinner Michael and I got busy. He is our 15 year old and has proven himself once again. Last year he was a great help to me during canning season and once again he has stepped up and helped me out. Michael pitted 7 quarts of cherries using the cherry stoner. If you don't know about these, they are awesome. They make quick work of pitting cherries. I picked mine up a few years ago at the local hardware for less than twenty bucks. It has really been a time saver.

So pictured is my propane canner that I set up outside. Boy it sure did keep the house cool and the water bath canner came to a boil in no time. I highly recommend this set-up.

I canned 6 quarts and one pint of cherry pie filling. This will be awesome to have on hand during the busy holidays for awesome pies. I still have lots of cherries chillin in the fridge and am still on the lookout for awesome recipes. Send 'em my way.....I'm thinking maybe I will do bourbon cherries. I have a friend that did some last year and then took them out of the liquid and dipped them in chocolate......yummo!!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Gearing Up....

Sorry it's been so long since I last posted. I took a few extra days off and stretched the holiday out a bit...thought I would get in some posts but ended up spending lots of good time with the family playing a little, working a little, and relaxing a little. It was a good time.

Yesterday, Terry and I went to Spokane to pick-up a couple of Craigslist purchases. Terry got a large air conditioner for his shop. He is working hard and heavy on a large furniture order to be delivered to Texas in August. We also scored a very nice large upright freezer for his Dad (PawPaw). With the price of gas we were able to combine many errands and take full advantage of being in the city....We went to the Snyder's bread outlet. I got twenty or thirty loafs of bread for 20.00. I freeze them and take them out as needed. It is a huge savings, especially since the bread we eat is approximately $3.00 a loaf at the grocery store. and there is seven of us. It is still in my plans to learn how to make home-made loafs of bread. I also went to Costco and stocked up on cheese, and some other basics that I buy there.

For me, the best purchase was a dual-burner propane cooker than I can use as an outdoor kitchen for canning. This will allow me to use two pressure cookers or water bath canners at once. Not only will it be cooler outside, but the dual-propane burners have a very high btu which will allow much quicker results.....or so I am hoping. I will keep you posted on whether it works out as planned or not....

Last night after we got home the kids and I picked cherries off the tree in our yard. It was really loaded this year. We must have picked 30 lbs of cherries. They are chillin in the extra fridge and I have been scouring the internet today for canning and/or preserving recipes. Please send any my way that you think are worthy. I'll post pics of the finished products.
The homestead is continuing to grow and take shape. We have a active project list to accomplish before the snow flies. We definitely need to build the horses a barn or at least a covered shelter. We have many chicks that will soon need larger accomodations than the 200 gallon stock tank brooder that Christopher has fashioned. We plan to gather more firewood and burn energy logs only at night. I will pick-up a permit tomorrow to allow us to gather wood from the national forest. The garden is coming along well. Terry and Michael fashioned a trellis for my beans today. Can't wait to start getting fresh veggies from the garden......mmm, I can't taste the squash right now.
Please feel free to post your projects and progress and hopefully we can encourage one-another. I will offer any advice, support, or encouragement needed and would love the same. Take care - Waste not, want not.

Monday, June 30, 2008

We have another new addition.....


We were scouring Craigslist this weekend, for both Idaho and Montana, and came across a lucky find. Meet Manny, he is a Clydesdale/Quarterhorse cross and is approximately 20 yrs. old. He will be a great addition to our crew because he is dead-broke and will provide many hours of patience as we figure out what we are doing. He has been ridden in rodeos, parades, trails, and arena. He will raise his feet for the farrier with the snap of your fingers. He currently lives in Montana and will be moving to Idaho within the next few weeks. Stay tuned for updated info on Manny. Thank you Seth and Mary for entrusting us with your baby boy....we will do him well.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Look what was born on the homestead this morning......

Tucker, our 2 year old black lab was barking and wanted Daddy to come look at what he found and low and behold it was a new fawn. Just born, she couldn't even stand yet. How cool is that? We are so blessed. We had seen the momma deer in the horse pasture helping herself to the left-over grain in the bucket that we had left out for her.....guess she really needed that extra nutrition.

Tucker has a girlfriend. Dean, a good friend and colleague of mine, gave us a 9 month old female black lab. Her name is Molly. This is a photograph of Christopher and Molly. It is amazing the difference between genders of the same breed. Tucker is a very rambunctious, play all the time dog and Molly is much calmer and very affectionate.

You don't have to look far to see the many blessings that we have on our homestead....from the natural beauty of the mountains around us, to the funny animals, to breath-taking wildlife that live amongst us. Count your blessings one by one everyday and it will make your day all that sweeter.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lessons learned.....

Today Terry and I went to meet Chester. Chester is a 13 year old registered paint and is owned by my co-worker Jean. Jean is a very experienced horse-person and offered to teach us some "ground manners". We had a wonderful couple hour lesson where we learned proper techniques for haltering, leading, lunging, saddeling, and reining. Chester was a really good sport and accomodated us novices. It is so nice to have friends that are like-minded and so willing to share their expertise . We also got to tour Jean's beautiful home that she and her husband have labored long and hard over. What a treat. Jean even sent us home with a lunge line, a hay feeder and a promise of a saddle stand. I love sharing things with others in need and it is so awesome when the favor is returned. Thank you to Jean for your extraordinary kindness and knowledge.

The kids have become fish addicts. They fish most every afternoon and after dinner at the creek down the road. We are all loving the fish. This is Christopher and Katlyn with their latest catch!!!
More trout for dinner. Maybe we will get enough to can this weekend. Terry found me a double propane outdoor cook-top. It provides 60,000 btu for each burner. I think that will be perfect to can on. I will be setting up an outdoor canning kitchen so that I won't be heating up the house. I have pics soon, hopefully.
Share your knowledge and abundance with others....you will be blessed in the process.

Monday, June 23, 2008

So many thoughts.....

We didn't end up with enough fish to try our hand at canning, but we had a wondeter rful addition to our Sunday night meal. We had salmon croquets, macaroni and cheese, pinto beans, and fruit salad. Everyone really enjoyed the fish and Christopher headed down the road on the 4-wheeler earlier this evening with Michael and Emily in tow to see if they could catch some more.

Today was a work day around the homestead. Last night after we got home from the lake, we made a weekly goal work-list. Terry and the kiddos got quite a few items checked off today. The biggest accomplishment was moving our tractor (in-process restoration - waiting for a part) off the trailer and onto the ground. This allowed for us to utilize the tractor to take down the road to the Kootenai River where we pump water into a 300 gallon holding tank. We utilize the water to water the yards, veggies, and flower garden. We belong to a rural water coop and the last few summers there have been issues with the water, both in pressure and rationing. So last year we made the investment in the tank, a pump to pump water into the holding tank and another pump that pumps water from the tank through the hose and/or sprinkler. This has sure been nice because previously our water bill in the summer would be so, so, so, expensive and still everything wasn't watered as much as we would have liked. So now, it only takes two minutes to fill the holding tank and with very little labor we can water all we want for free.

We are trying to be very productive, individually and as a family, throughout the week and play more on the weekends. It will only be a short time and all the teenagers will be out of the house. This message is really sent home when we think about our eldest daughter getting married this summer. It seems like only yesterday that Woo was having a fit over having to eat a sloppy-joe.... so many memories to remember and so many more to look forward to.

Lindsey and Andres' - Winter 2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008

It was a GOOD day!!

This is the fish that were caught today at Brush Lake. The lake is about 10 minutes from our house and surrounded by the mountians and has a beautiful osprey nest. It was less fish that hoped for, but the scenery and family fun more than made up for it. Terry taught Christopher had to clean the fish and Christopher cleaned them all. They won't make it into the canner because Christopher has asked that I cook them tomorrow. That will be awesome to have fresh fish. Hopefully we will fish tomorrow and even better luck!! I hope we will fish at Robinson Lake which is also pretty close nestled in the mountains. Robinson is home to many bald eagles. I will try and capture some pictures to share.

This is some of our eggs that we gathered today. We have 24 hens, four of which are broody, so 20 layers. We got 14 eggs today. Not too bad but we always hope for all the girls to lay. We also have some chicks that we aren't sure yet whether they are pullets or cockrels. We of course want only girls.....we'll just have to wait and see. We already have four roosters.

We also have two new chicks. Buttercup and Reeses. We got these two chicks (mixed breed) from our neighbor, Terri. We had the pleasure of touring her home hatchery last week. Katlyn and Emily couldn't leave these two girls behind. Terri also offered us many more chicks because we gave them some posts that we removed from our pasture. Christopher is preparing a new set-up so that we can break home more chicks. Christopher is also trying his own hand at hatching. He got 4 duck eggs from another neighbor and has them under a broody hen. We can't wait to see if they hatch.....stay tuned.

It is never a boring day around here, always some new adventure and that is on purpose. One of my goals for this year was to live more purposely. Making decisions on purpose with merit and positive consequences. It is a great lesson for us and for our kiddos.

Big Day here on the Homestead....

This is the breakfast spread to celebrate Terry's 40th birthday. Farm-fresh eggs, bacon, bisquits and home-made triple berry jam and peach jam from last summer's bounty. PawPaw (Terry's Dad) came over and enjoyed the meal with us.

Terry, PawPaw, and the boys are outside preparing the boat for fishing. We had a small Livingston boat that we bought second-hand a few years ago and have just outgrown. So we sold it and are getting a new (to us) boat. This boat was purchased locally from a family friend, Heidi. This boat was her father's. It is a 1959. Not only do I LOVE purchasing things that have been previously loved by someone else, I especially love purchasing things that have character and a story.
Hopefully later on, I can post again with pics of lots of fish. Terry is hoping to be able to can some fish. This will be a new experience for us. We were able to catch Discovery channel's Alaska Experiment. One family canned salmon that they caught in the river. This has really inspired Terry to try his own hand at catching "free" food and preserving it for us. I'll let you know how it goes.....both the catching and the canning. If anyone has any helpful comments, post away......always looking to learn from each other. I'm sure Kathie over at Two Frog Home will be able to spread some of her canning expertise. Until then,

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Disaster has hit the farm......


Meet Classy. Classy is my dairy goat that provides milk for our family; HOWEVER, she is in the jailhouse now. She devoured my lovely little garden. Yes, all the cauliflower that already had nice white heads tempting me with promises of crunchy goodness. The pickling cucumbers, the lettuce, the cabbage, the spinach......lets just say it was a very sad day.
In Idaho, we have very short growning seasons. This is really a hard blow but didn't break our homesteading spirit. So, I headed out after work and picked up the few remains of vegetable starts available in our little community of 2500 people.
I put in two new tomato plants, nice little grape ones. I put in 6 new cauliflower stars and believe it or not there are little white buttons adorning the top of each. I also added two eggplants. The eggplants will hopefully have enough time to mature. If I able to make it to another nursery this weekend, hopefully I can add some other starts. I still need to replant lettuce and spinach seed.
I'll keep you guys posted on the status of the garden. I have faith that all will work out and provide many nutritious meals for our family. Good luck with your own gardening efforts. Look forward to hearing both of your success and failures. benttreefarm@gmail.com

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Slowly learning to all get along....

This has been a week of lessons. We have been trying to get to know the horses and have them get to know us. The horses have had training, probably much more than we. So we have been reading alot and putting our new knowledge to the test. This is Marti riding Tanner with Daddy leading them around the pasture. Both horses came with some tack and right now we are riding utilizing bare-back saddles.

We tried to purchase both a western and english saddle but they didn't fit. It seems buying a saddle might be harder than buying a pair of jeans for my teenage son, Christopher. Anywho, I digress. Neither fit the horses. Both were too narrow in the gullet area.

This is a picture of Katlyn, aka the Pioneer Princess, giving Lena a pedicure (cleaning out her hoofs). Please don't miss her perfect pasture footwear - pink suede furry slippers. Always the diva.

So many lessons to learn around the homestead....we are always open to any helpful hints. Feel free to post in the comments section. Looking forward to a new day and a new lesson....

Long-term Storage - what's that???

Only a few short months ago, I hadn't a clue was the phrase long-term storage REALLY meant. We have a large family and have traditionally several food items on hand but come to find out long-term storage means ideally having enough food on hand to feed your family for a year. I don't necessarily have such visions of grandeur of having a year's food supply on hand - but with the cost of gas, I have really made significant improvements to my home food storage. It helps to have most ingredients on hand to cook most meals or goodies from scratch. That was another big part of our family changes, was to cook more meals from scratch using as healthy and wholesome ingredients that could be had. Processed foods are mostly a thing of the past for us. So, I decided I would share a few tips on how to build up your own food storage.

  • Know the rock-bottom prices of the food items that you use the most. So when things are on sale, you will be able to know if it is a good price or not.

  • Get weekly circulars from your grocery store and buy ONLY things that are on SALE. Plan your weekly menus around what's on sale.

  • Wal-mart will match advertised prices, but I decided months ago to stop shopping at Wal-mart. What if everyone shopped at Wal-mart and the small local grocery store went out of business? Our Wal-mart is 40 miles away and I want my local groceries to thrive so that if and when gas is 8.00/gal., I can pick up groceries in town, when I am there for work.

  • If something is at a rock-bottom price, stock up. There are certain items that go on certain times of the year. For example, around Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, almost all of the baking items are on SALE.....stock-up. At the before Easter sale, I stocked up on both brown sugar and powdered sugar for .68 cents a bag. If you know your rock-bottom prices, you know that is a GREAT price. I bought six bags of each. Memorial Day and 4th of July is a great time for out-door BBQ fixings.

  • LOSS-LEADER. That means an item that is marked down so so so cheap just to get you in the door. I make it my stock-up extravaganza. I recently got flash-frozen chicken breasts in the 4 lb. bag for 3.96. I bought 6 bags. Recently I got pork-shoulder roast for .69 a pound and put them up in the freezer.

  • Shop your grocery outlets or Amish grocery stores. They have items significantly below grocery store sale prices and is a great time to buy case-goods. I just bought 40, 32oz. Gatorade for $24.00 (.60 cents a piece).

  • Buy in Bulk. You can either buy from a food coop, wholesale club (Costco), or from the whole food grocery. Recently I was buying dehydrated red bell pepper by the ounce and they were getting a little spendy. I spoke with the store owner and ordered a large bag for 17.00. GREAT price and with our short growing season, I could never grow enough red bell peppers to even fill a small ziplock sandwich bag.

  • Finally, now is a good time to start gardening. We put in a nice garden last year and we were able to can both veggies and fruit from our fruit trees. Canning has some start-up costs the first year, but once you have the jars and canner, you are set for the next time.
Craigslist.org is also a Homesteader's best friend. I was just able to pick-up an upright freezer for $25.oo. It was a great find and I was able to fill up with meat, will help me not have to stand on my head, digging out a roast from the bottom of the chest freezer. Also, I just picked up a 22 QT. Presto Canner (in the box) for $35.00.

Hope these hints help to stock your pantry and feed your family well. If I missed a tip or you have a good one to share, please post in the comments. We can all learn from each other.....

Monday, June 9, 2008

Life on the Homestead

Gertie and Emily (the youngest teenager - 13 years) enjoying some of the pretty weather this weekend. This was taken as we were introducing the cows to the horses. There is always some new excitement around here, especially with 5 teenagers and lots of "farm animals" (chickens, 2 dairy goats, 2 calves, and 2 horses). We pick up our newest addition this weekend. Stay tuned for the "Name the PIG contest. Cool prize to the winner, so get ready to post your comments".

I am really getting excited to start harvesting some food from the garden. This is a pickling cucumber that will be picked this week. I still have a couple of raised beds still to be planted. The growing season here is Idaho is so short, so we are giving thought to a greenhouse but I imagine there will be more pressing issues (housing for animals) before winter. The fruit trees seem to have lots of fruit, so we are planning on preserving all that we can. We are on the hunt for a used orchard ladder.

We've made a list of projects for this summer. We will be building a deck all along the back of the house. We also plan to side and put metal roofing on the new chicken coop that we built this spring. I will post pictures as we tackle these summer projects. Send me your "to do" lists in the comments section and we can encourage each other. Til then.....

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Our TWO newest additions.....

We were so blessed this weekend to add not one but TWO, four legged animals. Terry has been dreaming of getting a horse for a long time. This was further encouraged by our best family-friends, The Lobby's, who are total horse people. We have learned so much from them and look forward to learning so much more.

Please meet Lena. Lena was purchased from one of my co-workers, Sharman. Thanks so much for being willing to share your joy by letting us purchase your baby-girl. Lena is very affectionate and loves treats and attention. She is a ten year old registered quarterhorse with nice training in western and trail-riding.

Next is Lena's HOT sexy companion. Please meet Tanner, aka Tanny Man, whose registered name is Tristan. He is technically a paint because of the markings on his belly (underneath and not visible in this picture) but I would call him a chestnut gelded quarterhorse. We bought him locally and feel so blessed to have him join our family farm. He is a ten year old registered paint, professionally trained in both english and western.

We had quite the adventure loading and unloading the horses in the trailer and moving them to our home. Thank goodness they both lived not too far from us because let's just say the least amount of time in the trailer, the better.

We spent part of the day today, grooming the horses, leading them around, feeding lots of treats and introducing them to the calves. They weren't thrilled about having to share their grass with those scrawny cows......but they finally made friends. Emily took the first turn riding Lena, bare-back, while I lead her around the pasture. I think we will give Tanny Man a little more time to get used to us, or is it the other way around???? Either way.....no hurry, no rush, so that everyone can feel safe and confident.

The rest of the day we worked on cleaning up around the homestead. Pulling grass and weeds and weed-eating under the electric fence so it won't let the animals go wild. We cleaned out from under the apricot trees and reclaimed some additional land from wild roses. The gardens, both flower and vegetable, are coming along nicely. We should harvest lettuce, onion, and herbs this week. Keep posted for tempting photos and recipes.....until then

Monday, June 2, 2008

Let me introduce myself......er well all of us, really

My name is Kelli and this is my blog. By day my professional job is a therapist but I dream of dirt under my nails, jelly in the canner, and chickens riding on the handle-bars of my bike.....in all seriousness, we just attended our town's Memorial Day parade and for the second year in a row, the highlight of the parade for me was this little girl riding her pink Huffy bike with a chicken in tow on the handle-bars....wish I had a pic because I'm sensing some real doubt....but it's true.

I am married to a wonderful man named Terry or Terdy affectionately called. Besides being a full-time Dad, he is a professional furniture maker. Check out his site, http://www.wrightwoodworks.com/ and send him an email and let him hear from you. Terry is one of those guys that can fix, build, restore, or Southern engineer anthing.....quite handy to have around the homestead. He is currently finishing up a BIG furniture order that he will deliver to Texas towards the end of the month. He has also been busy working on our new land......Wormwood Estates.....I mentioned it yesterday. It can really no longer be accurately called Wormwood Estates because we mowed all the old gray growth down and then have sprayed the field to kill the wormwood. It sounds like we might have a heck of a time gettin' rid of that stuff. Anyway, it looks significantly better. We have had so many neighbors and strangers stop and comment on the improvements we've made so far. That feels awesome when someone notices your hard-work.

We are parents to six children, five of whom are teenagers and still live at home. The eldest is Lindsey and she is a deaf educator in an elementary school in Tyler, Texas. She has recently become engaged and we are so happy to welcome Andreas into our family. Then there are the terrible teens...not really, well at least not all the time. Christopher (16), Martina (16), Michael (15), Katlyn (14), and Emily (13). Pictures to follow....sometime, when somebody emails me and tells me how to fix my pics so that they end up in the body of the blog in proximity to what I am talking about versus at the beginningof the narrative.....somebody, please help. Until next time, I'll leave you hanging wondering how haggard Terry and I must look to have one marrying in a couple of months and five teens........

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Welcome !!

Well I am finally realizing my dream. I've been dreaming, hoping, and wishing I had a blog but never really set my mind to actually doing it until today. We, as a family, have been doing some great things and I wanted to share them with you all.

We've basically gotten the garden in. We are hoping for a large garden with lots of fresh food for our family as well as enough to can for the winter. Speakin' of canning, I purchased a 22 qt. Presto canner off Craigslist this weekend.....thank you Denise for saving it for me until I could get over to Coeur d'Alene. That should see lots of use this summer. I've been scouring the local thrift-stores and picking up canning jars. We are planning on bread and butter pickles, pickled beets, beans, corn relish, jams and jellies of all varities. My best from last year was some lavender infused apricot jam. Both the lavender and the apricots were from the yard. Pretty amazing what we can do with things from our very own yard.

We added to our homestead in December of last year. We purchased the 15 acres contiguous to our home. It was a really big deal for our family. We had been wanting the land for years but had been told repeatedly that it would never be for sale because it was "family land". But low and behold we returned home after a weekend away to see a real-estate sign up and boy were we ever surprised and shocked.....after much offering and counter-offering it became ours. It was a BIG mess of wormwood, to which we effectionately named Wormwood Estates.

With the addition of more land, came the addition of more animals. We purchased a small portable chicken coop with 5 chickens from Jenna from Sandpoint. She was willing to part with them only because she was re-locating clear across the country to Vermont. Check out her blog, coldantlerfarm.blogspot.com. Anywho, we fell in love with chicken keeping and soon added alot more birds because not only are the eggs wonderful and flavorful but watching their cute personalities and antics is also habit forming. So now our flock contains Welsummers, Cochins, Jersey Giants, Rhode Island Reds, and a HOT sexy rooster named Sam. He is an Americauna. The portrait at the beginning of the post is of Mindy.......one of my first hens. Thanks Jenna, she is a love. We also added more animals but I'll save some of the introductions for next time.....