Monday, December 31, 2012

Update on Goals from 2012

While the General Manager and I enjoy the view from our front porch, I should probably say goodbye to 2012 with a report of how my goals from last year stacked up to the daily reality of life.  Goal planning is not easy for me. . . .   but I find it is necessary  to see results and progress in my life.  When I created my goals last year, the plan was to give me a guide to follow on our journey of homesteading. 

Goal #1
~At the beginning of the year we are planning and praying that our baby doe Nubian goats will be born and delivered to us. We are anxious to begin the journey into raising goats for milk so that we can drink it foremost, but also to learn the process of making cheese, butter and soap. The back area behind our chicken run will have to be enlarged and fenced in to house these new additions to our homestead. 

We got our Nubians this summer after anxiously awaiting them.   One sunny afternoon we picked up our doe and a temporary buck (to keep her company) while we waited for an additional doe to be born within the next few weeks.  Anne named the doe Clarissa and the buck, Shorty because we were going to trade him for another doe eventually.   I now know that raising animals does not come without heart ache and lessons to be learned.  A couple of weeks after receiving both goats, they broke out of the pen in the garage.  Clarissa went straight for a small rhodendron bush in our front yard that we had not removed yet.

 Since no one was aware of this, we were at a loss when by the end of the evening she was bloated and falling over on herself.  She died shortly thereafter.  The entire family was heart broken and we were all feeling very negligent and poor stewards of our gifts.  The kind family we got the goats from reassured us that it could've happened to anyone and "goats would not be goats if they didn't find a way out of their pens."  So about a month later - two new does were entrusted to our care.  They are doing well, currently 6 months old; they are named Skittles and Milk Dud.  We love having them and they are extremely happy in their new home.  We found out that they absolutely love cabbage and we just happen to have an abundance of that growing through the winter months in the garden.

Goal #2
We enlarged our garden last year and while we were able to grow more vegetables this last year, we had a slow start. If it wasn't the crows stealing the seeds or the gophers digging up the potatoes, it might have been the slugs that ate up the tender shoots.
~I hope to try my hand at winter sowing seeds.  I just might be able to get some early seed growth going while we are in our rainiest months April - May. This just might actually beat those darn slugs. With the mini-greenhouses, I might actually get some herbs to grow here on the North Coast.
~Our first order of business will be to make a scarecrow for the garden.  
Our scarecrow worked amazingly this year - absolutely no crows or birds eating my newly planted seeds.  We did do some winter sowing of seeds, but this summer we had extremely strange, cloudy, foggy weather which really kept the ground moist too long - most of my seeds had to be direct re-sown later in the summer.  We had great success with the mini-hot house - lettuce and chard all winter long.

Goal #3
~Next, we'll need some row covers and the West Ladies are just my inspiration. In their Homestead Blessings Gardening DVD they show exactly how to install row covers which will protect my early crops from a myriad of pesky pests.
~I also hope to expand my herb garden and fill our front garden beds with more perennial herbs, both medicinal and culinary.
~To our orchard - Next fall, my plans are to plant a few more fruit trees , such as another pear tree and perhaps a plum. I'm not sure what will do well here. . . I'm hesistant to try figs (while they grow great here) because no one in the family is particularly fond of them. Maybe another apple tree to replace the old one that only produced a handful of apples this year.

I was persuaded by the General Manager to not do row covers this year because of our slug problems, so that went on the back of the priority list until next year.  I did add some more herbs/medicinal plants to my front perennial beds such as yarrow, sage, peppermint, thyme, oregano, calendula and chamomile.  We also planted two more apple trees this spring.  I'm still debating on adding another pear tree and we had to forgo the plum trees because the leaves on certain fruit trees are poisonous to goats and we already have two big cherry trees dropping leaves this fall.

Goal #4
~We'll be adding some new layers to our flock in the spring so that we don't always have the "Sold Out" sign up on our egg stand. We have been blessed with such a demand for our ladies' eggs, we rarely have enough to supply everyone that stops by. Anne is also going to try her hand this year with some specialty breeds to show at the fair this summer. . perhaps a Silkie.

This spring we purchased 6 new Rhode Island Reds to add to our flock.  We thought we were getting 6 hens, but turns out their was a rooster in our mix.  He is very beautiful and he's called Big Red.  We are not sure if he will remain here at One Blessed Acre, but for now he's content with his ladies.   Egg production was good over the summer months, but now that the days have shortened and the light is less, we are down considerably in egg production.  Therefore, the "Chickens on Vacation" sign has gone up on the egg stand.  We never did add any specialty birds because we just didn't want to order one from a hatchery.

Goal #5
~Our meat chicken production has been nil. We'd like to try doing a set of 25 in the summer, but we are struggling with where to house them. . we aren't sure if we can put them in with the other layers. We know that the meat would be far superior than the meat we are buying at the grocery store, as well, we'd know how well the animals were treated while with us.
For  now meat chickens are going to continue to stay on the "not to do list."  It is a very involved process that would require us to build seperate housing for them (as we have too many predators that a chicken tractor would be entirely ineffective) and that just isn't in our schedule these days.  It will remain on our "wish list" for later.  In the meantime, we've gone to buying more humanely raised meat animals and are willing to spend the extra for good quality meat.

Goal #6
~Hannah would love to get new rabbits this year - she is still missing her two bunnies from last year that died unexpectedly. My husband would love to get into raising meat rabbits, and we could easily build a few more rabbit hutches.
Hannah did get a new rabbit this year, named Fluffy and she also had the opportunity to show her at our local fair.  She placed first in her class and also took 5th place for showmanship.  That was quite an accomplishment for her first year showing for 4-H.  We have decided to never do meat rabbits, one because of the work involved in raising them and two because no one wanted to butcher them.  Lindsay also got a 4-H rabbit this year, named Pippi.  It is a love-hate relationship between the two rabbits so much so that they can never be out of the cages together.
Goal #7
~I'm determined to finish a king-size quilt I began about 4 years ago for our bedroom.  
~I am going to keep better financial records of how much our garden costs and food storage amounts that we put up this year to get a better understanding of what it will take to be self-sustaining (well, at least 75% or so)
~And lastly, I hope to paint our master bedroom.
I have finally finished putting together our new quilt for our bed.  It will be headed to a professional quilter and then I will finish the binding.  It will be amazing when it is resting on my bed this winter.  I have done a much better job of keeping track of our financial record for our chickens and have learned that by selling some eggs, we are essentially making enough to cover the cost of our own eggs.  The cost of the shavings and rising cost of feed has made it nearly impossible for us to break even, or even get ahead.  I wouldn't go back to store bought eggs though, the eggs are just too good.  Our garden was stunted in its growth this year because of the lousy weather we had over the summer months.  We still have managed to put up quite a bit of stockpile for the winter.  I'm beginning to see that we will always be dependent upon the grocery store for some items, but I'm working hard to dwindle that list down as much as possible.  Lastly, I have yet to paint my bedroom, but there is always this winter . . . .
How did your year turn out? 


Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

What is Christmas without a "pizza" smile picture?   It was hard not to join in with George when he yelled "pizza" during our family picture taking day.  We wish all of our friends and family a very blessed Christmas and holiday season.  You make our lives so special.  Thank you for all of your beautiful comments throughout the year and for following our journey at One Blessed Acre.

God Bless You and Keep You This Year!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

clean pantry - nothing but pure peace

Once a month our Azure Standard order arrives - even more than our fun day of picking up the order, I absolutely love when my daughter gets a cleaning bug.  Tuesday night after we got home she spent a few hours reorganizing our pantry.  I only wished I had snapped. a before picture.
Thanks Anne!
I love you,
Momma. . . . .

Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Look for the dining room and a little Christmas decorating

these curtains have been in our dining room ever since we moved in three years ago and everyone in the house didn't like them at all.  They have been slowly fading from what was probably a brilliant red to a burnt orange.  YUCK!  They needed to go.

after a little splurge, I found these beautiful navy blue drapes and I decided to only use one panel on each side (which really lets more light into the room now).   In January I'm painting this room and at that time I'll lower the curtain rod down a few inches so that the curtains are closer to the floor.

the weekend was spent decorating for the holidays, using as many swags and candles.  My favorite happens to be the one on the dining room table with the dried cranberries.
how are your holiday preparations coming along?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving


"Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever."
~Psalm 106:1
"Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."                   ~Psalm 103:1-5
Ever since I began my journey of journaling my "1000 gifts," I find that I am able to be thankful for the big things in my life as well as the little things that some would consider mundane or insignificant.  Thanksgiving is a great time to remember all that we are thankful for, but I challenge you to do so each and every day - each day is a gift - one that no one should take for granted. 
I am so very thankful for my faith and the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, for my wonderful husband and our seven children, for our two precious grandbabies and all of our family and friends.
And, I'm so thankful for each of you!  Your precious comments bring such joy to my heart.  I wish you all the best today - Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Take a walk with us

come  join us today while we take a walk through Russ Park
we are on a scavenger hunt
on just one of many hiking trails
full of nature, steep hills, muddy paths
and one extremely boggy lagoon
lots of "Y" shaped sticks, moss, slugs, bird calls, wild flowers, ferns
several giggles and squeals and a couple of slips and falls


thank you for coming along - we hope you enjoyed the tour

Monday, September 17, 2012

~right now~

:: warming from the sun finally shining upon us after a long summer of fog and dreary weather.
:: listening to the makings of a salon spa day in the front room. . .oops, I think a little boy got in on the fun and might have gotten TOO comfortable.
:: smelling fruit leather dehydrating in the oven - - a beautiful gift from a friend's sister-in-law; organic strawberry preserves sweetened with natural cane sugar - YUMMY!
:: canning the harvest bounty out of the garden, and gleaning from a local vegetable stand, finds that we cannot grow here on the Northcoast (ie. tomatoes).
:: loving our teeny tiny apple from one of our newest trees. . . here's hoping next year we will have several more.
:: feeling grateful that the sickness that our family suffered through during the month of August is finally gone.
:: listening to pandora during the morning hours.
Photo: He did good on picking the ring :)
:: counting the days until our next daughter gets married - she got engaged this weekend and we couldn't be happier for her and her future husband.
:: chuckling over the creativity that goes on in my pantry with my newly harvested potatoes.
:: diving into our third week of our new fall school schedule - praying for peace, gentleness and grace to accomplish each of our daily tasks.
:: wishing you a very blessed day!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

household meanderings

Our garden

In the garden: we've been picking lettuce, onions, chard, strawberries, garlic, cilantro, parsley,  potatoes, peas, radishes, spinach, carrots, even a few cherry tomatoes that have actually survived in our hot house.  Even the littles have been a huge help in hauling in all of the goodies found there.  I've begun planting our fall garden of parsnips, turnips, more lettuce, spinach, carrots and maybe some cauliflower. . . only because last year we harvested our brocolli well into December.  I've tried something new this year for preserving my herbs - freezing them into small individual rolls as well as dehydrating them.  This works so much better than hanging them to air dry - plus it helps retain color and smell of the herb.

Pinned Image

In the kitchen:  I've been experimenting with many new recipes, such as Carrot Zucchini Soup and the latest pinterest pick we tried was Watermelon Slushies - WOW - so  yummy!  How many pinterest picks have you tried lately?  I made my first batch of soap - shampoo bars. .  and I'm patiently waiting until next month when I can test it out.

From the homestead:  Our two nubian goats, Milkdud and Skittles are thriving, coming up on 2 months old.  Anne and I still take turns bottle feeding them.  I love the way that they give goat kisses everytime they are excited to see one of us.

On the fun side:  we went camping last month.  Even though we were only about 2 hours away from home, the weather was warm, sunny and so beautiful.  The kids swam all day in the lake and enjoyed the house boat and paddle boat.  Smores and roasting marshmellows later in the evening were also a must for our happy campers.

What is happening at your homestead?