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I am wife to Stewart, mama of five, homeschooler, messy cook, and avid fermenter. This is where I tell our story... of building a sustainable off-grid homestead in a Christian agrarian community... of raising this growing family of ours... of the beauty and the hard and the joy in all of it.
947 articles written by Shannon

December has a funny way about it, here in Texas. A cold front has swept in, on the heels of several warm days, so we’ve shifted from opening all of the windows to carrying in firewood by the arm full. The children are always excited at the mere prospect of wintry weather and I can’t say this Minnesota girl could blame them.

Another funny thing about December is that the chickens don’t lay much. About a month ago they abruptly went from an abundance to a near-on strike but I suspect the shortness of the days has something to do with that.

Broth and dairy have been consistent fare along with the salads and greens we are still gratefully harvesting. We will have to cover the garden for a string of nights, though, so we will see how the more tender lettuces survive the brief onslaught of fall we are getting.

And then there is pie. I don’t know how it came to be – perhaps it is universal, do you think? – but pie has become the queen of all desserts in our home. This apple pie sat alongside pumpkin pies for our Thanksgiving and I think we have a new favorite gluten-free pie crust. But Stewart suggested testing it a few more times, you know, just to be sure it is right. I think the consensus on that was unanimous.

With a cellar full of pumpkins and the daily milk and eggs, perhaps this cold streak is just the time to test just a few more pies…

are things frozen under in your neck of the woods?

It sort of feels like the garden off-season even though things are still very much growing. We haven’t had much frost to speak of and it is actually in the 80s today. But because most everything is greens and roots, we are simply eating loads of it every day and I am taking a break from the ferment jars and canners. This Cimarron Lettuce, above, is looking big enough for salads now.

We currently have two beds in the Chicken Field that look like this. A mix of radishes, turnips, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, and tatsoi.Tatsoi is this nifty little green that is supposed to be cold hardy down to 15 degrees. We haven’t even come close to that yet so we will see how it fares as winter sets in… if winter sets in. It is tasty, though, and we have been eating it in salads. Though it is of the mustard family it is quite mild.

And then there is this patch we broadcast-seeded with turnips and kale. We ate the turnip greens in salads as babies and now we are pulling the greens for Mabel and the goats mostly. The back half of this picture is the sea of kale we are eating from currently. There is also some mustard and collard greens spread out beyond this photo.

The beets were a major fail this fall and so we will maybe try again early next spring. Abram’s beets are doing really well, however, as are his greens and carrots. I am pretty sure there is something like a green thumb in his bones but I’m wondering, if it was from me, if it didn’t skip a generation.

We are so grateful for fresh salads and greens available daily right now. These beds mostly grew themselves so we are concentrating our energy elsewhere, preparing spring garden beds, finishing up book projects, and focusing a lot on schoolwork. Lord willing, before we know it it will be January – time to start seeds indoors! – and February – time to plant potatoes! – and the garden will sweep us away once again.

Are you still able to grow or harvest where you are at, friends?