Ok, so it's been a loooong time since I've blogged. Some of that is because 1) blogging stresses me out when I'm busy, and there are times when I just have to put it at the bottom of the priority list, and 2) I was spending every spare moment getting my new business up and running.
"What new business is this", you ask? I have been working on opening a Music Together center in my area. When I moved here last summer, and began looking for infant/toddler programs to take my kiddos to, I realized there was NOTHING to offer. So, I decided to bring it, and figured I would also benefit from drawing like-minded mamas to myself as potential friends. Well, after working on this for about three months, making a website (See the fruits of my labor here), spending lots of money, buying a whole lot of instruments, and doing some market research (should have done this part first), I realized that what I would need to charge to make up my costs (not even pay myself for my time), would be an amount that most people in this area could not afford. So, I've recently decided to put my plan on hold until either things change, or I find another way to operate that would not cost me so much money and unpaid time. So, here I am, back to the blog.
Another thing I've been doing is working on the homestead. We've prepared a large garden plot (about 30ft by 30ft), with raised beds and irrigation (photo below). We planted part of it a few weeks ago, and will plant more seeds this weekend. We've learned to spread out our planting so that things ripen at different times. If it all ripened at once, I might not be able to manage preserving/consuming it at that time. So, we will spread out the planting. We already have little saplings from the lettuces we planted! It's so fun to see them growing in their little row. I'm hoping the other things sprout up soon....I think their germination terms are longer, and that is why we aren't seeing them yet. At least I'm hoping that's why. It's the blind leading the blind around here when it comes to gardening. For all I know, we've killed things already! Here's the part of the plot that we will begin planting this weekend.
The chickens are doing well. We're down to 13 chickens, after once having 17. We ate two, and have lost three to predators. They keep getting out of the pen, and we keep trying different means of keeping them in, but are apparently not doing it correctly. At this point, we've clipped their wings, added more chicken wire, and put netting over the top of the pen. But they are figuring out how to get around the netting. Just yesterday, they were roosting in the oak tree above the pen. I couldn't believe it when I saw them up there! I thought chickens were dumb. Well, they are pretty dumb, but in this case, they're impressing me with their intellect. Here's a pic of the chickens. You can see that big branch over the pen. That is where they keep flying up and roosting. Silly girls.
Our next endeavor will either be goats or pigs. While we are super excited about adding either of these animals to our little homestead, we have learned with the chickens, that more mouths to feed costs money! And both goats and pigs eat a LOT! So, our plan is to start planting food that they would eat, build their shelters, feeders, and milking station (if it's goats), and then get the animals. We don't want to be eaten out of house and home, and are we really living sustainably if we are having to go out and buy their food? We should be growing it, so that is where we will start. Part of me just really wants to go out and buy a bunch of feed, and get the animals now, but I know that in the long run, it will be so much better if we can grow their food. And better for them too....we'll know exactly what is in their food, and thus our food, since we'll be eating their meat/dairy products/eggs.
And finally, I'm trying to learn what to do with all this stuff once it is grown so that we can maximize the benefit of all our hard work. Preserving is the way we've decided to go. I've purchased all the canning equipment I need, and lots of canning jars. A few weeks back, my girlfriend Joanna and I canned peaches. We used a recipe from the Ball Canning Cookbook that I have that included honey, cinnamon, all spice, and cloves. All I have to say is "yuuuuuuuum!" The peaches turned out sooo good. Now we just need to try to not eat it all afterwards so that we can have some later in the year to enjoy. Ok, we didn't eat all of them, but quite a few jars disappeared pretty quickly. The next thing I want to learn to do is tomatoes....stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, katsup, tomato juice. All those things I buy at Costco and use in my day-to-day cooking. I read recently that BPA has been found in many canned foods, and the aluminum I know is not good for us, so I really want to steer clear of using canned food from aluminum cans. But, I'm pretty sure I'll have to wait until next summer to do this, since tomatoes are hard to grow in the winter.