Tag Archives: sustainable

A Year in Review: Our Journey Continues!

I started this blog a year ago today... I wasn't sure where it would lead or how I would use it I just knew I wanted to share our journey with others. I have this deep need to teach others what it takes to start a homestead and live a cleaner more sustainable life. The number of post's I've made are much less than I thought I would have but my life has been very full! poults and chicks The spring brought a litter of kittens, a brood of chicks, a dozen ducklings, and two turkey tgvng2015016.jpgpoults! Then on April 14, the day before my birthday, our precious Liam finally arrived a week and a day late! My fourth child arrived fast and furious, 29 minutes after I entered the hospital! He has been a perfect happy baby and all of us have adjusted well over the last eight months!   family We planted an orchard and a perennial food plot at the beginning of the year and after Liam was born we planted our vegetable garden after adding a truckload of compost to the new ground. We had 325 tomato plants with over 40 heirloom varieties as our main crop! And then summer arrived in Georgia! Oh what a summer it was! It was so hot all summer that nothing could grow... We got enough tomatoes to eat fresh (our family can consume 6-12 fresh tomatoes a day in summer months), cook with (tomato pie is amazing!), share with close friends and freeze some for later canning in cooler weather! Not enough to sell though as we had hoped...IMG_20150809_191734_773 This winter I have traded seed with many heirloom experts and have over 100 heirloom varieties to try in the spring! Tomatoes are my obsession! Peppers waited till fall and then went nuts! We bartered and sold them well! Cucumbers, beans, okra and eggplant were good but need to plant more for next year! dsc_0149.jpg Ryan, my better half, made a big career change in June! He left the organic garden we had cared for for four years and took a job at a sustainable pastured sheep dairy! They have the best sheep milk cheese in the country! He milks, does farm chores, and cares for the sheep, pigs, and chickens. He's learned so much about rotational grazing and even got to spend a day in the cheese house making cheese! His new job is really a perfect fit for him! We are excited to apply the new skills to our own goat milk herd we plan to have in the near future! At the end of the year a friend reached out to us in need! She had a registered Hereford hog that was in desperate need of a new home! She and her kids had grown too attached to her to slaughter so she will be a breeding sow. They came over and fenced the old riding arena and got it ready for Petunia. She will be bred and have piglets in the spring! We won't get attached to piglets, I promise! They will be sold or raised for meat. But Petunia is going to continue to be one spoiled girl, belly rubs and all! petunia Wont you continue on with us? Follow us as our journey continues! Subscribe for email updates now! I can't wait to share all we hope for in the new year! We have so much more to teach you about gardening, raising animals and kids, and eating healthy food!

Happy New Year!

Cultivating Mushrooms at Home…Yes, it is possible!

Oyster mushrooms

Oyster mushroom slices ready to saute for dinner!

So yeah, we love mushrooms in this house! Almost as much as we love tomatoes! It only makes sense we start growing our own! I have done it in the past on a small level but now I want enough to share, barter, and sell to the chefs! My dad has a friend who propagates mushrooms in a lab and I have received the mushroom blocks like you get in kits from him. I grew them on my counter and they worked well but lets face it, I need more counter space for all my other projects! Growing the blocks is easy and fun but on a large-scale, I just don't have the room. I got to plug a log and bring it home at a class years ago and it was fun. I put it in a shady spot and watered it well... at first... Then I got busy and didn't water it all winter... In spring when we were cleaning up the yard I considered it a loss and just tossed it back by the compost pile and forgot about it. A year later there were mushrooms all over it! So I figure it has got to be easy if neglect created that many! So this time I'm going to really give it my all! A friend of ours placed a bulk order for mushroom plugs and we bartered some tomato plants for 100 Blue Oyster and 100 Shiitake plugs. We got too busy with the garden this spring to start our logs and summer is too hot so we finally got around to it in the fall. The plugs waited patiently in the fridge. So we got our logs cut and set up a work station on our front porch and made a fun evening of it. Pandora radio set to Blue Oyster Cult and a cold drink in hand we started out...here is how we did it... Ready to plug logs! Logs We researched up and down what would be the best wood to use and got a good list together. Soft wood and conifers are not recommended for mushrooms. Certain species of mushrooms do best with certain tree species so do your research for what you are growing. We planned on getting some of the highest recommended wood possible. But then the universe stepped in and steered our decision... A huge pecan limb fell in a storm and was the perfect age to cut when we were feeling motivated to do this project so pecan is what we went with, good or bad... One thing we try to do is, use what we have on hand and not waste resources. So the most sustainable option for us at this time is to use the pecan. We cut the huge limb into 3 to 4 foot sections and used the ones that were 3 to 6 inch diameter. At this point it was a couple of weeks old which is a good aging period for the wood. You don't want to use it too fresh or too old. A couple of weeks to a couple of months max. It has to still be holding some moisture inside so if it has been really dry you want it aged less. drill holes Drilling We charged the battery to our 18V drill and put our spare battery on to charge as well. A 5/16 drill bit is the right size for plugs to fit into. We used a Sharpie marker and drew a line on the bit at the one inch mark so we would go the right depth every time! Starting 2 inches from the end of the log I began drilling holes. I alternated about 6 inches apart in rows approximately 2 1/2 inches apart. Enough space for mushroom clusters to grow big and strong. Ryan took over the drilling because pecan was harder than I expected, lol! We got 20-30 plugs per log. It is recommended to cover each plug with a thin layer of wax. Waiting We put them in a shady location in reach of the hose and watered them in well. We just stacked them up checker style and if it hasn't rained we give them a good hose down! It's important to keep hydrated! Our friend just contacted us about another bulk order and we will be doing more varieties in spring!!! Can't wait for all the yummy mushrooms! Let us know if you are interested in ordering them in the future!

You Should Really Get to Know Our Family

IMG_20150103_223157018_HDR I thought that being a new blogger I should do a better job of introducing all of us. We all play a part in making this home a Homestead. You can read about me anytime in my bio but you should really know the people who make me whole! Read more »

Our Homestead Then and Now

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The sun setting over our pond... breathless every time!

  Where we were. We spent the last 6 years in a run down rental home trying to find our dream home. It had 6 acres most of it woods that we were able to hike in and enjoyed that. In the small area that was open around the house we had a large organic garden and a small flock of chickens. Of course we canned, cooked from scratch, and made our own natural hygiene and cleaning products etc. But we longed for more... Read more »

What is “Homesteading” Anyway?

  cropped-carrots13.jpg Definition. Homesteading (v)- The act of living off of the homestead.
Homestead (n)- House, land, animals and outbuildings that operate as one, frequently a farm.
The term homesteading is traced back to The Homestead Act in the 1800's. It was designed to open up the west. People were given a plot of land to establish and if they stayed at it for 5 years it was theirs!!! Boy, how I wish we could do that still today! It became more about getting back to the land in the sixties and seventies when people like my parents realized how important it was to the natural environment, and the political and economic environment also. We are seeing another surge in the homesteading movement in our current day as well. The sons and daughters of the hippies are realizing that they can make a difference and be more sustainable. The values our parents taught us are becoming more important to us as we have children and desire to raise them well. More and more ivy league graduates are turning in their ties and offices for overalls and organic farms.   What it actually is. People who are trying their best to survive off the land where they live. This can be very broad as some live in urban areas and sign up for local CSA's to provide their vegetables. They are growing herbs on the windowsill and are committed to grass-fed local beef. While others have acres of vegetable fields they grow organically and can stuff all summer long. In addition to raising their own eggs and meat, they probably build all the fences and outbuildings with as much reclaimed materials as possible. The key is to be as self-sufficient, sustainable, and environmentally friendly as you are able. What it means to me. Freedom. Growing most of our food and raising some of our meat gives us the ability to eat healthy and put our food dollars towards local organic food when we need more. We are free from the constant poison that is put into our food system. Family. Many activities we do on the homestead require a group effort! We all do our part no matter how big or small. My 3-year-old collects eggs every day and loves it! We cook and eat together every day as a family. My older two kids are very capable of creating a wholesome complete meal with little to no directions. Future. I have big plans for our little rented homestead! We hope to be here long-term if not forever and we are invested in making this our very own fully functioning homestead! We already grow a lot, can, cook and ferment most of our food. Our chickens give us plenty of eggs even in the winter and the occasional chicken soup. We will be adding to our gardens and even planting fruit trees for a home orchard. I should be getting bees in the spring for honey if that works out for us. Some day I will have dairy goats and will make cheese and soap from the milk. A pig or two for bacon and chops is not out of the question either. If I do all this just right we should even be able to sell at local farmers markets making us even more self-sustaining. Homesteading is...? What is it to you? How are you fulfilling your homesteading dream?